JEFFERSON CITY - After Sunday’s mass shooting at a church in Texas, the Missouri Highway Patrol wants to remind residents of their program to implement security measures in churches across the state.
The Church Safety Program, which is for security teams in churches, is taught by safety officers at each Highway Patrol troop.
The program establishes specific tasks for churches to perform during church meetings, such as seating people in certain spots, checking interior rooms such as storage areas and entrances.
Some local churches already have security teams in place.
“You want to minimize risk if possible to your members and others that are present in your building,” said Jim Hill, Church Administrator at First Baptist Church in Jefferson City. “You want to be a safe place for people to come and worship.”
Hill said while the goal is to minimize risks, they cannot take away every risk a church could face on any given day.
“I think it is very important in today’s environment that you have some procedures in place, that you have policies and that you do the very best that you can do to provide a safe environment," said Hill. "I don’t think that is really optional today. We ought to do that and we think every church ought to do that."
“The reality is everywhere should have safety measures: movie theaters, bowling alleys, night clubs and schools,” said Robert Erickson, senior pastor at First Presbyterian Church in Jefferson City.
Erickson said their safety and security team will discuss whether or not they will talk with the Patrol team to consider changing their security measures. He added they have already met with the Jefferson City Police Department to talk about safety measures but all options are open at this point.
“You can never do too much,” said Erickson.