Security expert shares how to keep places of worship safe

(Photo: WKRN)

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) – Following tragedy in Antioch, security in Middle Tennessee churches is now top of mind.

One group out of Lawrenceburg specializes in training to keep places of worship safe.

Led by Don Laws, who has 30 years of law enforcement experience, the group Elite Training LLC helps trains churches to deal with the life and death situations.

He told News 2 safety starts in the parking lot, recommending hiring security guards of some form.

“You do have people that show up that are visitors, you’re not really aware of, or you may have people that show up late,” he explained. “If you have somebody that shows up, that may be an issue, that you think might be suspicious, that will cue other security members that might want to follow that person around.”

(Photo: WKRN)

Once inside the church, Laws says it’s all about limiting the points of entry. He recommends churches lock all doors, assessing any people who may show up late.

Should a suspect make his way through the parking lot, through the front door, into the sanctuary, he urges those who are willing to confront the gunman as fast as possible.

“I’m gonna reach and grab him, whether I’ve got access to my weapon or not, this is to minimize the threat. This is to take him down, and have other people rush him at the same time,” said Laws. “He’s gonna sit there and reload, reload, reload, until somebody like that usher in Antioch rushed him, and makes him stop.”

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For teachers, stuck in classrooms during Sunday school, Laws urges them to first see if they can help the kids vacate the room or building.

(Photo: WKRN)

If they’re unable to, find a way to keep the door closed and barricade said door by whatever means necessary.

“You stack your chairs, you stack everything you’ve got, barricade the door,” he said. “Remember, shooters are gonna go to the next opportunity, they’re in a hurry.”

Should the criminal make entry into the room, he urges teachers to stay to the side of a door and throw whatever they can find at the suspect.

“It doesn’t matter what you’ve got, sippy cups, ping pong balls, anything to engage that gunman,” said Laws. “Once you’ve broke his thought train, you hit that gunman, you do whatever you can to protect those kids.”

Any churches interested in training should visit Elite Training LLC’s website. 

Click here for more on the Antioch church shooting.