LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) - Over 160 local religious leaders attended a training session Thursday night with the Louisville Metro Police Department to learn how to keep places of worship secure.
This comes after a gunman tried to enter First Baptist Church Jeffersontown minutes before killing two random victims at Kroger. That shooting happened just days before 11 people were shot dead at a Pittsburgh synagogue.
“It’s somewhat frightening when you think about the fact that everybody recognizes that potential for there to be a problem,” Chief Steve Conrad said when asked about the large number of leaders in attendance.
Conrad said the sad truth is that no community is safe, but that’s why the room was full. Louisville is trying to become safer, starting with houses of worship.
“Things have happened that have made it now a sense of urgency that we review and look at our safety procedures,” Alexander Jones Jr., with First Virginia Avenue Baptist Church, said.
Shootings in holy places are not a new phenomenon, but Jones Jr. said they seem to be getting worse. As a leader he went to learn whatever he can to provide a safe worship environment. That was a hope and a sense of responsibility also felt by Aquila Johnson with Greater New Hope Community Church.
“When fear and panic sets in, you freeze," Johnson said. “But hopefully they’ll be able to give us some tips on how to get past that and do what’s necessary to try to save as many lives as possible.”
That’s what the lessons aim to do.
“(Religious leaders) are the first responders to a certain extent,” LMPD Lt. Col. LaVita Chavous said. “They will come in contact with that person first before we get there.”
Leaders not only learned how to address an active shooter situation, but also general building security and best safety practices for every day -- not just during services.
LMPD and Oasis Safety will have another session Monday, Nov. 26. One hundred people have already signed up and they encourage all leaders of faith in the area to join them.