Churches are known as a safe haven for many reasons, but what do people do when that haven becomes part of a crime scene?
First Baptist Church of Denton and the Denton Police Department are conducting a Faith Based Crime Prevention Conference from 8 a.m. to noon Saturday at 1100 Malone St.
The event is designed to prepare representatives from more than 25 area churches to deal with a crime situation, should one arise.
Officer Shane Kizer, lead organizer of the conference, said it’s important for the police department to develop partnerships with faith-based organizations within the community.
“These partnerships lead to more communication about the needs and concerns of our community and help to facilitate and mobilize better ways of safeguarding our citizens,” Kizer said.
The conference, he said, is a comprehensive training approach and will cover topics such as crime prevention strategy, child care safety and emergency preparedness.
“Over the past year, I’ve been approached by a number of leaders in Denton’s faith-based organizations,” he said. “They all had concerns for safety in their places of worship due to the increased number of violent crimes committed in public places across our country.”
Jim Markle, minister of business administration at First Baptist Church in Denton, said the conference will discuss anything from how to deal with a shooter during services to covering what to do during a severe weather event.
Detective Mike Carroll with the Fort Worth Police Department will be the keynote speaker. Kizer said Carroll will discuss his investigation of the Wedgewood Baptist Church shooting and potential threats to places of worship.
Markle, who has been working in administration in churches for nearly 30 years, said that with all the events people see in the news today, prevention and education is key.
The church has been talking with Kizer for about five to six months to prepare for Saturday’s conference.
“As business administrator, I want to make sure I am doing the right thing and I think my part is to make sure people are safe,” Markle said.
He said he hopes to see as many area representatives as possible Saturday.
While the event is being conducted in Denton, organizers said they will not be turning anyone away.
“The place of worship has always been considered a safe haven to its members,” Kizer said. “Hopefully, this training will assist in creating that environment.”
To register for the conference, contact Kizer by 5 p.m. Friday at 940-349-7241 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Breakfast will be served 30 minutes prior to the start of theconference.
MEGAN GRAY can be reached at 940-566-6885 and via Twitter at @MGrayNews.