Faith Leaders Train for a Crisis Situation

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Religious leaders and faith-based organizations are preparing for a security summit in Northeast Ohio later this month.

The Faith Based Security Summit and Emergency Planning Workshop in Middleburg Heights is intended to equip religious groups with crisis management training in the event of active shooters, natural disasters, terrorist threats and other emergencies. 

On 90.3’s The Sound of Ideas, Marcus Coleman, the Acting Deputy Director at the Center for Faith Based Neighborhood Partnerships under the Department of Homeland Security emphasized the need for churches to coordinate with local law enforcement.

“Engagement with local first responders to develop a plan and make sure that they’re doing it the right way,” Coleman said. “And that law enforcement is aware of what the plan is for that house of worship so they know what situation they’d be walking into in the unfortunate circumstance that they need to respond.”

A description for the summit points out the vulnerability of houses of worship.  

Typically, religious facilities offer generally unrestricted access to religious services, parking areas and separate educational facilities; building systems that are vulnerable to fire, contamination and blocked exits; and nonprofit status with limited resources for security.  While many faith-based institutions are prepared to handle petty crime, most are not prepared to respond or mitigate more serious threats.

Speakers at the summit will include the Cleveland police chief, the US Attorney for Northern Ohio and representatives from the FBI. 

The workshop had been planned before Sunday’s shooting that killed 26 people at a church in Texas.

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