Carl Chinn, president of Faith Based Security Network, will present safety options for churches and faith-based ministries at 7 p.m. on Monday, Jan. 8 at the First United Methodist Church.
It was a terror that defied reason. On Sunday, Nov. 5, 2017, A gunman walked into a Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs, Texas and opened fire on the congregation killing 26 and wounding at least 20.
Preparing for the unthinkable in churches and faith based ministries has become a mission for Carl Chinn, president of Faith Based Security Network. His non-profit organization brings law enforcement and church security professionals together to formulate a plan for an invader at a church or faith-based ministry. Chinn spent a week in Sutherland Springs interviewing survivors, families and law enforcement to find out what worked and what didn't.
Chinn will present "Security in our Churches" from 7 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. on Monday, Jan. 8 at the First United Methodist Church in Pratt. Everyone is welcome and there is no charge for this event.
His research into church and faith-based shootings since 1999 revealed that in a two to one ratio, shootings start outside the church then move inside or it takes place entirely outside the building.
Chinn was the building engineer for Focus on the Family. He worked with the architect and engineers and on the security systems. When the Murrah Federal Building was bombed on April 19, 1995, Focus on the Family asked him to evaluate their facilities for readiness in case of a shooter in the building.
One of the elements was to install a panic button under the front desk. On May 2, 1996, the unthinkable happened at Focus on the Family. The button was activated and when Chinn arrived at the front desk, an angry gunman had taken hostages and said he had a bag with explosives.
Chinn was one of four held hostage. A negotiator got on the phone with the gunman and got the hostages released. After four hours, the gunman gave up, laid down the gun, came out and surrendered. It was a life changing event for Chinn.
"It opened my eyes for the need for security as an intentional process," Chinn said.
Chinn wrote a book, "Evil Invades Sanctuary" the case for security in faith-based organizations. He started consulting with faith-based organizations and churches to develop security plans. He realized his own church, New Life Church in Colorado Springs, Colorado, that services some 10,000 on a weekend, had no plan in case of an invasion. They put together a Readiness Team in 2005.
At 12:30 a.m. on Dec. 9, 2007, a killer came to Arvada, Colorado and invaded "Youth With a Ministry" a facility that houses kids going on mission trips. He shot several and killed two. At 1 p.m. the same Sunday he showed up at the New Life Church in Colorado Springs. He shot and killed two girls in the same family. He had posted 13 diatribes with a message. "Christian America, This is your Columbine."
The New Life Church security team headed to the gun fire and a team member shot him in both legs. The gunman then committed suicide. He had a modified AR rifle, 1,500 rounds in a back pack and two more guns. He could have made good on his threat, Chinn said.
This event spurred Chinn on to do more research. He found out that domestic disputes, like it was in Southerland Springs, are often the cause of shooting events at churches and faith-based ministries.
For Chinn, preparing churches and faith-based ministries for shooting events has become an obligation.
"Churches need to be ready. I believe in constant awareness," Chinn said. "I want people to work with some level of alertness and readiness."
Part of Chinn's commitment to preparation has carried over to his e-mails and a scripture from Nehemiah 4:9 he includes with each e-mail. "We prayed to our God and posted a guard, day and night." That's been his message.
Many church goers believe that God will protect them in church but the truth is bad things to happen to good people and something needs to be done.
Chinn has developed 10 points that need to be taken for safety:
• Get executive Support.
• Do a risk evaluation study.
• Start with what you have and where you are.
• Keep it simple.
• Keep it Legal.
• Know your insurance policy and agent.
• Train and drill.
• Network with the community.
• Develop policies and procedures.
• Security is like Jazz. You want people to know the plan but be able to think on their feet.
If the unthinkable happens, when the shooter walks through the door, it's not going to be like what you think it will be like. You can plan and train but when it happens, people have to be able to think on their feet.
Shooters are basically cowards. Resistance is contagious. If one person responds to a shooting, others will follow. Before a situation happens, people need to consider what they could use and would use to defend themselves.
In March of 1988, Jerry Waddell threw a songbook at a killer in the Calvary Baptist Church in Emporia while the shooter was fumbling with a new clip for his gun. Congregation members chased the shooter out the door and Waddell threw the songbook then pinned him down in the street and took his gun.