On Sunday November 22, 2015 60 Minutes did a comprehensive report on “Responding to an Active Shooter”. Anderson Cooper, correspondent of CBS’s 60 Minutes stated “A person’s chance of actually having some sort of encounter with an active shooter is like one in two million. A person’s chance of being hit by lightning is one in 700,000.” As a friend of mine and I were discussing the interview he relayed to me “but we do things to avoid the lightning strikes”. I echoed “and no one knows where the next shooting is going to happen’.
During the 60 Minutes report Cooper interviewed two of the nation’s top cops: New York Police Commissioner Bill Bratton and Washington, D.C.’s Police Chief Cathy Lanier. Cooper’s lightning response was to a statement Commissioner Bratton had made that there was a very low chance of being a victim of an active shooter and the idea was to make the public aware of this type of threat without creating fear.
Chief Lanier recommended that in order to survive an active shooter a person must run, hide or fight and went on to say that in most cases active shooters kill most of the victims in ten minutes or less. Police response is five to seven minutes at best. Lanier went on to say that getting out was the best option, however if you found yourself faced with an opportunity to take the gunman down you should do it. It was the best option for saving lives before the police arrive.
Cooper responded by trying to downplay the seriousness of Lanier’s statement of survival by pointing out that talk like this could cause people to be afraid. Lanier reiterated her point by stating, “No, that works against you. If you educate people on actions they can take to reduce their risk, then you can save some lives. And I think it’s irresponsible for us not to do that. I’m not worried about an overreaction. I’m worried about a numbness to what is potentially a reality. Just ignoring it and not preparing yourself; that’s not an option anymore.”
60 Minutes’ focus was on the Paris and the Washington Navy Shipyard shootings. It is true that the chance of you being involved in a situation like that is slim to none but yet it happens. It is happening more and more every day. Don’t say it could never happen to you; the victims of past shootings never thought it could happen to them. Seconds before the shooting started they weren’t thinking about the horror that they were about to face. The simple fact is no one is ever prepared when these things happen.
The reality is churches and faith based organizations across the country have been dealing with these types of situations since the first churches began. Every week churches across the world are dealing with domestic violence, disruptive attendees that can easily turn violent, and mental illness that brings in all sorts of issues including hate crimes and religious persecution. Churches need to focus on current events and educate themselves on how to prepare for all types of emergencies using available tools and resources to protect their congregations.
Trinity Security Allies is a 501c3 non-profit ministry that provides safety-security education, training and resources to churches and other faith based organizations with situations facing them in today’s world regardless of their ability to pay. This ministry is based on biblical principles, not fear. We look at your strengths and weaknesses and offer suggestions to help you prepare for all types of emergencies in your house of worship. Let us know how we may serve you.
As Chief Lanier said, “Just ignoring it and not preparing yourself; that’s not an option anymore.”
Jim has many years of law enforcement experience and has run the safety team at his church for several years. TSA was formed after he realized God's calling when multiple churches reached out and asked him to present at their church.