MOORESVILLE – As a crime prevention officer for the Mooresville Police Department, Dave Harding has had to educate a number of churches on how to prevent or deal with violent acts.
The fact that he has to, he said, is “pitiful.”
“I say that all the time,” Harding said. “I say, ‘I can’t believe I’m in front of a church group having to talk about this.’ It’s a sad commentary on our society. Unfortunately, it’s necessary.”
After performing a number of trainings and site security assessments at individual churches in Mooresville, Harding will be giving his first presentation to a larger audience made up of multiple churches and faiths Oct. 2.
“Hopefully it’ll be a large-scale event,” Harding said.
The free event, called “Church Security – Where Do We Start,” is being organized by two insurance companies – Central Carolina Insurance Agency and Southern Mutual Church Insurance Company – and will be held at First Baptist Church in Mooresville.
The event is geared toward church leaders, but anyone from the public is welcome to attend.
Joanne Brown is the office manager for the Central Carolina Insurance Agency branch in Salisbury and helped organize a similar event in April at a church in there.
“One thing I found interesting is that we can all be participants,” Brown said. “I’m in a relatively small church, and if somebody strange comes in, I know it, you know? So my job would be to speak to them and ask them if I can help them find anything … just to make sure they’re not trouble.”
Jim Francis with Southern Mutual Church Insurance will be making a presentation as part of the event that will break things down into three “pillars” – security, equipment and training.
“If we just go out and buy a security camera, unless it’s being monitored, it’s like throwing money out the window,” Brown said. “So they’re promoting not just buying bunch of equipment.”
She said no products or services will be sold during the event – it’s for information and education only.
In addition to teaching ways to prevent a violent attack, the event will also cover ways to be prepared should an attack happen.
“We need people trained in church, like, ‘Can anyone apply a tourniquet?’” Brown said.
Attendees of the event will also get a chance to learn how insurers protect churches that allow members to carry concealed weapons.
“We’ll speak about that,” Brown said.
Harding said the church security event is important to attend because dangerous things can happen – and have happened – at churches elsewhere.
“It’s important because of what’s going on across the country with the mass shootings at all kinds of venues – schools, churches, businesses,” Harding said. “Churches are basically historically a sitting target because they’re places (with) open and welcoming people, so it’s only natural that the safety and security of it might be a little lax.”
Harding said he’s already helped around seven to 10 churches in Mooresville with active shooter response training, emergency protocol development and church site security assessments.
But he said he would like to help them all.
“I’m just letting the members who attend this know what we offer,” Harding said, “and that we need to move on it.”