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Happy New Year!  As you read this we are saying good bye to 2017 and welcoming 2018.  No matter how good the previous year was, we always hope that the new one will be better.  Although I often like to reflect upon the year that has past as well as look into the year ahead, I think it is important that I use this month's article to update you concerning church security.

As you may already know, the Gloucester Township Police Department held a training session for pastors and church leaders on Monday, December 4th.  It was well attended and reached churches well beyond the Gloucester Township area.  Over 275 people were in attendance, including me and two of our council members.  The session was titled, "Active Shooter Response and Church Security".   This training was inspired by the increase in public gun violence especially in light of the Las Vegas Shooting and the most recent church shooting in Texas.  These events can happen at any time and in any place.

First and foremost, should you find yourself in such a situation is to use common sense.  We have a tendency to panic in life threatening situations and panic is the enemy of common sense.  Law enforcement personnel have distilled the response that should be taken by civilians who find themselves in such an event to three actions, "Run, Hide, Fight."   The following information is useful anywhere you might find yourself in a hostile situation.

RUN
If there is an escape path, attempt to evacuate.
Evacuate whether others agree to or not.
Leave your belongings behind.
Help others escape if possible.
Prevent others from entering the area.
Call 911 when you are safe.

HIDE
If evacuation is not possible, find a place to hide.
Lock and/or blockade the door.
Silence your cell phone.
Hide behind large objects.
Remain very quiet.

YOUR HIDING PLACE SHOULD:
Be out of the shooters view.
Provide protection if shots are fired in your direction.
Not trap or restrict your options for movement.

FIGHT
At last resort and only if your life is in danger.
Attempt to incapacitate the shooter.
Act with physical aggression.
Improvise weapons.
Commit to your actions.

WHEN LAW ENFORCEMENT ARRIVES:
Remain calm and follow instructions.
Keep your hands visible at all times.
Avoid pointing or yelling.
Know that help for the injured is on the way.

The above information was gleaned from the following video, copyrighted by the city of Houston (2012), that you may want to watch: https://youtu.be/5VcSwejU2D0

Grace and Peace,