In the wake of a deadly shooting that rocked a small Texas town earlier this month, locals in Yadkin County are feeling concerned for their own safety while worshiping on Sundays.
Yadkin County Sheriff Ricky Oliver and Yadkinville Police Chief Tim Parks both said they have received multiple phone calls in the days following the shooting. Pastors and other church members have approached law enforcement to find out how they can improve the safety of their places of worship to prevent an attack like the one in Sutherland Springs, Texas, on Nov. 4.
Oliver said his office had received similar calls following the massacre at a Charleston, South Carolina, church in 2015, but many more calls have flooded in this time. Oliver speculated that the rural area of Sutherland Springs, an unincorporated community of about 600 residents 21 miles east of San Antonio, reminded folks of their own communities here in Yadkin County.
“We’ve been talking with pastors and church leaders about their concerns about security in the aftermath of this deadly shooting,” Oliver said. “I think this thing in Texas, it being a small congregation church, hit home with a lot of people that it could happen anywhere.
“The sheriff’s office does have a church security program that we would be more than happy to help anybody with if they want to contact us,” Oliver added.
The sheriff said he would like to encourage church leaders to reach out to his office and schedule a time for officers to meet with them in person to discuss security options for each individual church.
Police Chief Parks said his department, too, would like to meet with church leaders in the town of Yadkinville to offer options for keeping their congregations safe.
“Due to recent assaults directed at churches, the Yadkinville Police Department will be mailing out letters to the local pastors within the city limits. We will be offering our assistance by doing a walk through with them in their church and give direction and suggestions on how they can make their place of worship less vulnerable,” Parks said.
Parks has attended training on Threat and Vulnerability Assessments from the North Carolina Department of Public Safety. He and his staff, as well as the Yadkin County Sheriff’s Office, want to do all they can to help churches in the area be as safe as possible.
“There is no way to guarantee complete safety from violence, but we can make ourselves more prepared to prevent or lessen possible acts of aggression,” Parks concluded.
To reach the Yadkin County Sheriff’s Office to schedule a consultation on church safety, call the Crime Prevention number 336-849-7836 or 336-849-7821. To reach the Yadkinville Police Department, call 336-679-2863.
Kitsey Burns Harrison may be reached at 336-679-2341 or on Twitter and Instagram @RippleReporterK.