Planning and mitigation works!!!!

As is becoming commonplace, I am a day late with my blog submission. I know that this blog keeps many of you informed. I apologize for being late (again)! Unless you do not watch the news, you know that my prediction last week of another mass shooting, almost rang true . I say almost rang true because the school, and those involved with protecting children in that community, had a plan. As soon as news broke, multiple people began to text me and call me about the incident. One of my university students (who has been amazed at my predictions) even asked if I was a prophet. While I would be honored to take that title, I can only say that I foresee when mass shootings will happen through following the statistics.

As I said in the last paragraph, the school and public safety community had a plan. Not only did they have a plan, but they had the resources in place to deal with such a situation. It is unfortunate that the shooter died, but that was part of that shooters own choice. They had a choice about bringing the gun to school, they had a choice regarding whether to shoot or not, and they had a choice on shooting at the School Resource Officer. The shooter had choices, but those he shot, and shot at, did not! The shooter in exercising his choices, did not allow his victims to have any choices.

Fortunately, the schools and public safety made choices long before the incident ever happened. The primary choice was whether to plan and implement mitigation measures, which they did. This community thwarted not only this attempt, but also the one before it at Leonardtown High School . By planning, only the Lord knows how many lives have been saved in just this one community.

The point I want to make from this: Churches also need to make plans and undertake serious mitigation measures. Some churches believe that a few firearms in the church (alone) are enough to protect a church. It is not, and this type of mentality may lead to a shootout similar to the one at OK Corral. In that type of scenario, you are creating an environment where innocent people may be shot, and possibly even killed. Serious plans need to be made to keep a shooter outside of the church. While there is no “one-size fits all” plan for churches, there are some basic concepts that need to be in place.

  1. Total situational awareness-take your head out of the sand and watch for something out of the ordinary, or dangerous, that might be evolving!
  2. Implement layered security-Identify multiple areas where a shooter can be denied entry and denied access to parishioners. Use those layers to make it harder and harder to get to their target(s) (such as a person monitoring the outside, greeters that know what to look for, ways of quickly securing doors, door film to stop entry, trained security teams, etc.).
  3. Train parishioners– Train everyone in the church on what they should do if a shooter gets past your defenses and the shooter overcomes all mitigation measures.

The end goal is not to kill someone with evil intentions; the end goal is to protect church goers. If it is possible for law enforcement (or even a security team) to take the individual(s) alive, that gives the church the opportunity to show this person God’s love, and to even lead them to the Lord later on. This could even be while they are in prison or even possibly a mental institution.

As I close, I look at the statistics again. The next shooting will be harder for me to predict. Why? Because a school district, local law enforcement, and a school resource officer did not ignore protecting their students. Additionally, the media has not provided nearly as much coverage about this incident or about how the shooter was stopped. Because of this, there is a good chance that the next mass shooting may be delayed. Then again, it may create a challenge to someone else who thinks the last shooter botched their own infamy. No matter what happens, I praise the Lord that no innocent students died in this latest attack and that more were not shot. I can only pray that more schools and churches learn from this latest shooting. Until next week, … Mark

Get off the fence!

If you have read my blog before, you know that I am a firm believer in preparing. Unfortunately, many church leaders have the mentality that it will never happen in their church. They bury their heads in the sand, while the enemy plans to come not only to the front door, but into the sanctuary.

In John 10:10 (NIV), Jesus says “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.” While we have eternal life in Christ, we also have a biblical duty to protect those in our current world, who are not capable of protecting themselves. We are to be a sanctuary for those that believe or are coming to learn about the Lord. While some may be chosen to be martyrs, it is highly unlikely that God wants and entire congregation to do so.

We need to realize that evil comes into our houses of worship regularly. Whether it is a scam artist trying to get money under false pretenses, or someone the intention of coming in to kill and maim others, they are in our churches and on the property regularly. While we need to fulfill our mission in Christ by serving others and sharing the Word of God, we also need to make sure that we don’t go home to meet our Lord in an untimely matter. We need to keep being missionaries, but we should not do it in a foolish way. No matter what the mission field, whether in our home church, on the local street, a foreign land, or even in the streets of war torn country, we need to plan and prepare before we act.

I would like to share the stories I heard from other first responders after Hurricane Katrina and relate to planning and preparedness in churches. Many spontaneous volunteers decided to self-deploy to the area after Hurricane Katrina made landfall. Many of those individuals did not prepare or plan, they just went. In some cases, they had six bottles of water and a few protein bars to survive on. Some just had enough gas to get to the area, with no money or plans on how to get the gas they needed to get home. Because of their lack of planning and preparedness, these people essentially became part of the problem rather than being part of the solution. While the government was trying to rescue and save hundreds of thousands, they also had to worry about feeding, housing, and transportation for tens off thousands of people who had good intentions, but they did not plan or prepare for the situation. These were often referred to as the disaster after the disaster. In my opinion, churches that do not plan and prepare for mass shooters are the disaster before the disaster.

There are those that say that if something happens, it is God’s will, that it would not happen unless God allowed it to happen. Think about Lot. God allowed the evil one to tempt Lot, but he didn’t want him to die. The same likely holds true for us in most circumstances; God will allow Satan to tempt us, but He wants us to live, and to live life abundantly in our Lord Jesus Christ.

If you are still thinking about starting a program to protect the flock from evil, it’s time to get off of the fence! In James 1:8 (NIV) the Bible instructs us that “Such a person is double-minded and unstable in all they do”. While I am not usually one to switch from one translation to another to prove a point, I think that the Webster’s Bible translation explains this a little better. It states “A man unsettled in his opinions is unstable in all his ways.” Perhaps this should be a warning to you and your congregation to get off the fence. The time is now! Do something to protect your flock!

I feel bad about talking about this next part, but I thought I should mention it anyway. I am an avid study of the statistics of mass shootings, and I have become (unfortunately) rather good at predicting mass shootings (to a certain extent). Statistically speaking, we are nearing another mass shooting attempt in the next few weeks. Do not let these evil individuals have free reign, shut them down before they ever enter your church, school, or business! Take action! Make a plan! Get trained! Start taking those baby steps that will protect your church, and keep taking those steps until your church is hardened. Lock evil out!!!!

As I close, I wanted to say that unless another headline diverts me, I plan to get off of my soapbox, and get back to providing more tips on keeping your house of worship safe. I apologize for the last few weeks of preaching what needs to be done, but I felt led to make sure that God’s Children knew that this is not an issue that should be ignored. Until next week, I pray that the Lord keeps you safe and free from violence in your house of worship, … Mark

Another Active Shooter Last Week

We saw last week that an active shooter, a 15-year-old boy, caused more death and destruction in a school in Kentucky. According to the Kentucky State Police, the teachers and several students had recently undergone active shooter training. Unfortunately, it does not appear as if the entire school received the training.

Looking at this from my perspective, the lack of training to every student is a downfall in many school (and church) active shooter plans. Every person should be trained in what to do when an active shooter (or bomber) makes it to the parking lot or crosses the threshold of the doors. If one person does not know what to do, they become more vulnerable than those that have had the training.

It is for this reason that I implore churches and schools to make plans, to train everyone, and to practice that plan. The more it is trained and practiced, the more likely that those involved will not only act, but they will take the proper actions that will save not only themselves, but others too.
I think I hear some voices out there saying “We have layered security and a security team: Do we really need to disturb people with what to do, and then practice it?” The answer is YES you do! Why? When you practice something, you build up muscle memory and brain memory. If you have trained their brains and muscles to do something under calm conditions, it is more likely that they will do the right thing when trouble comes through the doors. Secondly, are you 100% confident that your layered security and security team can keep a shooter or bomber outside? I have known some of the best public safety officers and soldiers that have been surprised by active shooters and bombers! What makes you think that your team is superior to all active shooters or bombers?

The same principles we teach for churches, can be used in schools. Let me plainly state that if you do not prepare for an active shooter or bomber, and revisit your plans regularly, you are setting yourself (and all those you protect) up for failure. Do you want the next headline to be “20 dead, 18 Injured in Church Shooting” or do you want it to be “Would be Shooter Taken Down and Detained Before Hurting Anyone”? The decision is yours, and complacency and/or procrastination will not help you if, and when, the time comes, … Mark