DEKALB COUNTY, Ala. -- Monday morning a lot of people called the DeKalb County Sheriff's Office asking about a program the deputies run that teaches church groups how to train for and respond to an active shooter situation.
East Brow Baptist Church is in rural DeKalb County near the Alabama Georgia line. Church pastors Scott Crye and Charles Smith say it's a place where everyone knows everyone. That's much like Southerland Springs, Texas, now in a national spotlight. A church shooting there over the weekend left the nation in disbelief.
"It really hits home. It makes you realize with what just happened that even in a small community like ours that something like this could happen here," said Pastor Scott Crye.
To be prepared, just in case, church members joined a free program through the DeKalb County Sheriff's Office that teaches church groups how to prepare for and respond to an active shooter situation. "A couple other deputies and I went to school to be able to learn how to actually write a security plan for a church and help with churches' security plans," said Chief Deputy Michael Edmondson. That's after he saw the need for a security team in his own church.
Deputies evaluate the existing security at interested churches across the county and give church members the tools they need to make a security plan. Once that plan and a security team is in place, certified firearms deputies work with the team continuously on shooting and active shooter scenarios.
"You know, we go to church to be in a safe environment and to worship the Lord but you have people who want to do harm, and we want to make our people prepared," Edmondson said.
"We have a medical team made up of three or four RNs. We have our security teams. A plan is in place," said East Brow Baptist Church Pastor Charles Smith. That's something they encourage other churches to do, no matter the size or location.
Chief Deputy Edmondson says anyone interested in starting a security team in their own church can call the DeKalb County Sheriff's Office and ask for him. That number is (256) 845-3801.