Local pastor explains church security measures

Local pastor explains church security measures

LAWTON, Okla._The massacre of nine people at a church in South Carolina is causing some in Lawton to think about their own safety when they worship.

Lawton Christian Center Pastor Paul Craig says he always keeps an eye out for suspicious activity at his church. He says he's also trained some of the congregation to do the same.

Pastor Craig said he plans on treating Sunday's service as if it were any other week. He hasn't had to deal with tragedy yet, but he says he knows it could happen.

For centuries, the church has been regarded as a place where people can go for protection. The definition of sanctuary is a place of refuge or safety, but as we've seen too often, it's not immune to violence and that's why Pastor Craig teaches his congregation what to do in case of an emergency.

"We've told people that if something happens like this, they are supposed to get down very quickly and let the security forces do what they need to do," explained Pastor Craig.

The church usually has about eight people on its trained security team and most of them are on hand during services. This team is usually undercover and scattered throughout the congregation.

The Christian Center also uses their electronic media staff as a security team. They have three cameras, but only use one at a time during the service. The other two can scan the crowd and are consistently in contact.

"They have a headset too that they can communicate with people if they see something that looks like it might be dangerous," said Pastor Craig.

Some everyday church goers are trained to be on alert too. The church has a member who teaches concealed carry classes and has taught some church goers. To Pastor Craig, all of these safety measures are just common sense.

"In a church setting where you have many people gathered together, and there are crazy people that want to hurt these people, you'd basically be a fool to not have somebody there to secure that place," said Pastor Craig.

The church also takes measures when there isn't a service. Each section of the church is locked and an alarm system is set.

Pastor Craig said he also has a concealed carry license, so he can also provide protection in serious cases.