WILLIAMSON COUNTY, Texas (CBS AUSTIN) The Williamson County Sheriff’s Office is hosting its first church security summit on Sunday, taking place at Celebration Church in Georgetown from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m.
More than 175 churches will be participating, learning everything from how to handle an active shooter situation to being first-aid ready.
The Williamson County Sheriff Robert Chody says the idea came to him after the Sutherland Springs mass shooting in early November.
“We’re gonna be providing a presentation by one of my deputies who is certified in the civilian active shooter response program,” Chody said. “The ultimate goal is to educate our community and better equip them so they are not sitting ducks in an active situation like a shooter or killer or any type of event.”
He says the training isn’t just about active shooter situations, but having a plan for natural disasters, too.
“We also want to concentrate on the whole overall picture, which is fires, floods, tornadoes, things that could hit them while they’re having their services,” Chody said.
White Stone Church Pastor Cameron Corbin knows violence can happen anywhere.
“99 percent of the time, I think you could de-escalate a situation,” Corbin said.
Several years ago, those skills were put to the test when a man demanded Corbin officiate his marriage and didn’t want to wait.
“We had a gentleman in our church, who was standing close by, that saw the entire event, and he handled the situation by forcefully and kindly removing him from the service,” Corbin said.
Corbin and members attended a security training with Austin Police several years ago. He said the biggest lesson he learned there was the importance of securing church premises. They now have designated entrance points when the service starts and greeters outside so they always know who’s coming in.
“I think most churches are trying to be wise, not fearful, and not respond out of panic but just be wise in how we conduct services,” Corbin said.