Suncoast churches and mosque work to enhance security following New Zealand mass shooting

Suncoast churches and mosque work to enhance security following New Zealand mass shooting

SARASOTA (WWSB) - Leaders of both Muslim and Christian religions are learning how to make sure their worship centers on the Suncoast are safe.

Religious leaders throughout Sarasota County are doing what they can to make sure worship centers remain safe. Wednesday members of the Sarasota County Sheriff’s Office, the FBI and Florida Department of Law Enforcement met with mosque leader Shiraz Hassan.

“That is the way it is today. We have to take our own measures to protecting ourselves, protecting our families and communities”,says Hassan.

Leaders of several different religious organizations and faiths all had one mission today, learn how to prevent an attack and protect their members.

“People are concerned since the shooting in New Zealand. People are concerned someone would do a copy cat attack”, says Hassan.

In North Port, the police department hosted a church safety and security training seminar.

Along with law enforcement, Jim Howard of Trinity Security Allies is working to equip worship centers with what they need to protect themselves.

“We don’t care what the religion is, it’s a house of worship. There are three types of people that come into your church, those that come into worship, those that are hurting and they may be a step close to doing something they will regret for the rest of their life and then wolves in sheep’s clothing”,says Howard.

Howard says he teaches church leaders how to identify warning signs and potential threats.

“You have to look for people to come in and are an anomaly that when you see when they walk in the door we immediately know something just isn’t right”,says Howard.

He suggests houses of worship have a security team armed and ready to respond.

“I am not against the church arming themselves. The best scenario of an active shooter situation is that no one gets shot including the shooter”, says Howard.

He says worship centers should train how to lock down and make it hard for a shooter to get to congregants until the police arrive.

“Churches need to kind of be intelligent like the way of the world because we’re sitting here thinking we are protected”, says Howard.

In total 38 churches were represented at today’s training, mostly all from Sarasota County.

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