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Empowering Congregations to Help Protect Peace

Wherever you go to pray, you should feel at ease. The Michigan State Police (MSP) has expanded its Security in Places of Worship training to reach more people and places throughout the state.

The one-day, in-person training is designed for increasing safety and building resiliency in places of worship.

“The class provides training and resources to the individuals tasked with protecting a place of worship,” said D/Sgt. David Williams, one of the instructors, who is assigned to the Grand Rapids Post. “We want them to be comfortable, confident and prepared should a security incident happen at their venue. We even work through unarmed responses to an active shooter and how to build a security team.”

Demand for the class has been high. In response, the MSP plans to host at least three sessions a year with the next sessions scheduled for May in Swartz Creek and September in the Upper Peninsula.

Attendees will learn how to create a safety team, develop a security plan, assess vulnerabilities and build a medical “go kit." Legal considerations necessary when carrying a concealed weapon in a place of worship are also discussed.

To date, approximately 200 people have taken the course, with anywhere from 50 - 80 participants per class.

Stephanie Whiteside of the Lansing Church of God in Christ serves on her church’s security team and has completed the course.

“Security in places of worship used to be a non-topic,” Whiteside said. “Now it is. We are not trained police, so we do need the skills, training and insight. Whether you have 12 or 2,500 members in your congregation, every single person should feel comfortable and secure.”

Registration has closed for the May class at Cornerstone Baptist Church in Swartz Creek. Details have not yet been announced for the September class in the Upper Peninsula.