Midlands Reverend Speaks on Church Security

Columbia, SC (WLTX) Surveillance cameras captured Dylann Roof's image as he walked into the Emanuel A.M.E. Church in Charleston. Those images were able to be circulated just hours after nine people were shot and killed inside the church.

Midlands pastors say it's not uncommon for churches to have security systems, and Reverend Dr. Derrick Scott with St. Paul A.M.E. Church in Irmo says they're necessary.

"If they had not had the cameras, it could have been very lengthy that he could have been way out of reach. Because of the instant of having those cameras there, they were able to get a good photograph of him and get that distributed through the media," said Rev. Scott. "It was very helpful that that church had security systems and cameras."

Rev. Scott's church has multiple cameras, motion detectors and alarm systems in place. Family First Security is the company that oversees Rev. Scott's system.

Managing Partner Ashton Hambright says many churches are taking steps towards protecting their buildings because they can become a target.

"Churches and places of worship alike pride themselves on emphasizing their openness and their welcoming and open doors," said Hambright. "That can sometimes give you a false sense of security and give you some risks."

Some churches even have security departments and employ trained officers to watch over services. Rev. Scott says they may expand on their security personnel.

"Just because of what happened lately we may consider bringing them back on Wednesdays for bible study as well," said Rev. Scott. "We have them for worship service on Sunday because of the high volume of traffic, but I can see now that numbers is not always an easy way out because less numbers, you can still have incidents as well."

Hambright says other options some churches are using is to have doors that lock automatically when services begin, or swipe systems that require key fobs to get in.

No matter what step they take, he says it's one in the right direction.

"If you go to that church and you see that camera, you walk up and see that light that comes on as soon as you enter the parking lot, that's going to dissuade a lot of these guys from it even getting started so you can cut it off before it starts," said Ambright.

Churches who are interested in getting a security assessment have a couple of options.

The Richland Sheriff's Department offers free assessments by request. Family First Security is also giving consultations to churches at no cost.


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