The Barry County Sheriff’s Office provides a certified security and safety program to churches to help church leaders develop an organized plan for any emergency and to secure buildings and grounds.
“We’re offering to develop overall plans for church security and get their security teams started at no cost to them,” Sheriff Dar Leaf said.
The preventive program began before the recent mass killings, including one at a Texas church.
“We’ve been involved with church security since April 1999; we did Thornapple Valley Church right after Columbine,” Leaf said.
Based partly on a plan developed by the Michigan State Police, plans are tailored to cover specific areas of different kinds of buildings. How long it takes depends on what the church wants, if it’s basic security, active shooter training or something else.
“We’ll even look at how they handle money; it’s not advisable to have the same people make bank deposits at the same time, on the same route on a regular schedule.” Some insurance companies will give churches discounts in premiums if they have the program, he said.
The security/safety programs have been completed in churches in Barry, Kent, Eaton and Allegan counties.
Interested church officials are urged to call the sheriff’s office with their contact information and the department will follow through.