Richardson Police and CSI Teach Churches To Protect Flocks

| March 17, 2010

The Richardson Police Department is holding a free Faith Based Crime Prevention Conference from 8 a.m. to noon on March 27 at the First Baptist Church of Hamilton Park in Richardson.

Churches, synagogues and mosques are supposed to be sanctuaries from violence. But far too often, these holy places become settings for tragedy.

One of the most infamous church shootings occurred near Richardson in Fort Worth in 1999 after a gunman entered Wedgwood Baptist Church during a youth prayer rally and killed seven people.

But more recently, Brother Raymond Hart of Greenville Ave. Church of Christ in Richardson has witnessed firsthand how violence can impact a church. In 2006, his sister-in-law was shot to death by her estranged husband in the parking lot just before worshipers filed in for Sunday service.

"The moment you feel like you're at rest is when something may happen to you," he said.

Since the shooting, the church has installed a new camera system, established a safety team and even conducted an exercise that simulated a hostage crisis.

"Even though we're worshiping God, we certainly have to be vigilant and watchful," Hart said.

Bertraim Thomas is director of security at First Baptist Church of Hamilton Park in Richardson, where the conference will take place. Thomas is trained to subdue an attacker, even if that means using the gun that he carries during services.

"A lot of hurt people come to church and you never know when they may snap," Thomas said.

Thomas has the type of training that Richardson police hope to pass along to more than 40 other churches, synagogues and mosques during the crime prevention conference.

"Whosoever will; let them come," said officer Frank Bradford of the Richardson Police Dept. "But sometimes, that 'whosoever will' gets us in trouble."

Click here for more information and to register for the free conference.

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Category: CSI News

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