Last updated: May 31. 2013 10:21PM - 383 Views
Lindsay Craven
Staff Writer

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The Yadkinville Police Department will soon be offering free threat assessments to churches within the Yadkinville city limits.

The assessments will allow officers to share tactics and procedures with pastors and church members to make their churches safer and more prepared.

Yadkinville Police Chief Tim Parks and two officers from the department attended a class hosted by the North Carolina Department of Public Safety.

“We are going to be going around to the churches in Yadkinville and offering them an assessment if they want it,” Parks said. “We’re not going to force it on anybody but we’ve got some real good information.”

Parks said that the assessment will cover everything from the type of lighting and doors appropriate for the outside of the church to signage and safety and emergency protocols inside the church.

“On the second day of our class they sent us to a church in Mount Airy to do an assessment,” Parks said. “There were no windows at the entrance of that church so no one in the sanctuary could see who was coming in the church and once you came in the doors there was a sign directing people straight to the nursery.

“In earlier times no one would really think much of that but today you have to think of situations where there might be a custody battle or somebody might just want to kidnap a child and you’ve got a sign directing them to where they want to go.”

Parks said that the department does not want to scare churches by offering the assessments, but he believes that churches need to be prepared and informed about safety in a religious setting.

“I think [the need for this is] because of the times we’re in,” Parks said. “When I started in law enforcement this was not something that you really ever heard about or had any worries about especially around here. Honestly now you hear several stories a year where someone goes into a church for one reason or another and causes harm.”

Parks said that there have been situations with custody battles and disturbances in which Yadkinville Police have had to respond to churches in the area. He said that these experiences are what made him decide that these classes would be beneficial to him and his staff. Parks said that he plans to continue his training on the topic.

“We are going to do some more classes,” Parks said. “They have classes where you can go more in depth and take it to another level and we are going to check into that. They’ve given us enough to go out and help churches but I will probably continue to learn more about it.”

Parks said he plans to send out letters to all of the churches in Yadkinville letting them know about the assessments and extending an invitation for each church to participate if they wish.

Parks has already performed a test run of the assessments at his personal church Northwood Baptist Church.

“The people at the meeting there thought it was good information,” Parks said. “I went to my church first to give it a trial run. I think we told them a lot of things that they might not have thought about otherwise. I think they will probably take some of our suggestions and utilize them but no decisions have been made yet.”

Parks said that it is important that churches understand that all of the suggestions given during the assessment are optional and there are no obligations or expectations to implement any of the suggestions.

“I think every church will see something they like in the assessment,” Parks said. “We do not want to push anything on any of the churches. They may like one thing we suggest but they might not like another one and they may only implement one of the ideas and that’s fine.”

Reach Lindsay Craven at 679-2341 or at lcraven@heartlandpublications.com.

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