Middletown churches learn how to better secure their buildings


Pastors said after meeting with representatives from the Middletown Division of Police they left better prepared in case an active shooter enters their church.

The meeting between the police and church leaders was arranged by Middletown Police Chief Rodney Muterspaw on the heels of the Texas church shooting on Nov. 5 that left 26 people dead and 20 injured, making it the deadliest mass shooting in the state’s history.

During the 90-minute seminar Friday in Council Chambers, Lt. David Birk, Detective Brandon Highley and Sgt. Sam Allen discussed ways for churches to better secure their buildings and protect their congregates.

“It’s real out there,” Birk told this newspaper after the meeting that drew about 70 church leaders. “They need to be prepared. It’s about taking steps to save lives.”

Grace Baptist Church in Middletown already has taken some steps, said Senior Pastor Max Fernandez. He said the church has hired an off-duty Middletown police officer to monitor the parking lot and inside the church building every Sunday morning. The officer also assists with traffic, he said.

RELATED: Butler County pastors, police urge churches to create safety plan

The church also has a “safety plan” that Fernandez said he would review with church leaders and members, based off the information he learned at the seminar. The end result is finding the best way to “better protect” the members, the pastor said.

After the Texas shooting, church members gathered and prayed for those impacted, Fernandez said.

MORE: Trump says Texas church shooting result of ‘mental health problem,’ not guns

“It’s natural to have fear and to think about the vulnerability of your congregation to an active shooter,” he said.

Until recently, before the church shooting in Charleston, S.C., in 2015 that killed nine people, churches were considered to be a “safety zone, said Allen, who said it was important for people to feel secure at church.

Muterspaw said the church shootings have been committed by the “wrong person with wrong attitude.”

Years ago, during an active shooting, police didn’t enter the building until at least four officers were present. But now the first officer is instructed to find and apprehend the suspect.

“Waiting is costing lives,” Allen said.

The church leaders were told to:

  • Teach staff and members the proper way to apprehend a shooter and secure his weapon. Without training, employees may “freeze up” during an attack, Highley said.
  • Find ways to secure doors, whether that’s with bars, locks, belts or heavy furniture.
  • Instruct those under attack to run to the nearest exit and not hide in a corner or under desks. “The threat has changed,” Birk said.
  • Create a “rally point” for congregates to meet after they escape an active shooter. They recommended neighboring churches sharing keys to their buildings, if possible.
  • Put letters or numbers on every exterior door to make it easier for law enforcement to understand the layout of the building.
  • Limit the number of entrances into a church so it’s easier to monitor who’s coming into the building.



Reader Comments ...


Next Up in Local

Springfield student arrested after Facebook threat: 4 things to know
Springfield student arrested after Facebook threat: 4 things to know

A student at Springfield High School has been arrested after police said she made a Facebook post about a school shooting that went viral, including in multiple states. Here’s four things you should know about the ongoing case. » READ MORE: Attendance ‘light’ at Clark County Schools after threat, arrest made 1. ‘I will...
Financial experts say you should do these things with your tax refund
Financial experts say you should do these things with your tax refund

‘Tis the season for taxpayers to get a nice chunk of change back from the IRS. It’s tempting to spend it all, but financial experts say there are steps you should take to shore up your financial future.  Some who usually pay off debt will splurge this year. “I’m going to Japan in April so I’m actually going to add...
WATCH: Security camera captures two men who terrified kids home alone
WATCH: Security camera captures two men who terrified kids home alone

It’s any parents, and kids, worst nightmare. Strangers, trying to bust down the front door of a dayton home, just minutes after parents left for work, and their 11-year-old kids home alone. Dayton police have opened an investigation. A security camera on a neighbor’s house on holly avenue in dayton captured the faces of two men, wearing...
Arrest made in attempted robbery at Table 33 restaurant in downtown Dayton
Arrest made in attempted robbery at Table 33 restaurant in downtown Dayton

Dayton police arrested an 18-year-old man after a failed robbery attempt at Table 33 restaurant in downtown Dayton. According to a Dayton Police report, just after 5 p.m. Thursday, a man in camo pants and a red shirt grabbed a female bartender by the arm and ordered her twice to open the cash register. The woman refused both demands and the man ran...
8 hot cars at the Dayton Auto Show
8 hot cars at the Dayton Auto Show

Gleaming under the lights at the 2018 Dayton Auto Show, which opened today at the Dayton Convention Center, 22 E. Fifth St., are several hundred high-tech cars, family-friendly minivans and crossovers, rugged trucks and plush luxury vehicles, plus multiple attractions. You’ll see not only great vehicles but may win something worth upwards of...
More Stories