Religious institutions adjust to a new security reality

Reporter: Gina Tomlinson
Published: Updated:

Pam Arkin has family who goes to the same synagogue in Pittsburgh where a gunman killed 11 people on Saturday.

“What has happened has affected everyone in this country,” Arkin said.

Now her Temple is increasing its security presence. Safety is a constant worry for Gary Cox, who serves as a pastor at the First Christian Church.

“It’s more about having our parents feel safe,” Cox said, “[that] their children are safe.”

There has been an increase in local places of worship to request help from Lee County Sheriff’s Office.

“They understand that it can happen,” Heather Turco said, a crime prevention specialist, who gives presentations and trains religious staff on how to boost safety measures. “Most churches were built without cameras, without alarms, and without really the way of thinking the way we do now in this world.”

Technology within these holy places, such as security cameras, are being used to monitor the buildings.

Pastor Cox has a team of volunteers that contribute, who “are just eyes on Sunday mornings.”

Every member of the safety team at the First Christian Church has a walkie talkie, which is a hand-held, portable, two-way radio transceiver, at all times. They are trained in how to act fast in dangerous situations.

However, Pastor Cox said even with recent events, these congregation doors are staying open.

“We get up every day and we either live with fear or hope,” Pastor Cox said. “I don’t know of any place that is a greater reminder of that then the church.”

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