Religions and Spirituality

Training For The Unthinkable at Houses of Worship

Credits: Aaron Burden / via Unsplash

CLINTON, NJ - Law enforcement members, faith-based leaders, and support staff recently attended a Security and Risk Mitigation training program to promote safety and security for houses of worship.

More than 75 of them met at South Ridge Community Church here to formulate plans and strategies to improve security measures at houses of worship.

The presentation was organized by Hunterdon County Prosecutor Anthony P. Kearns in partnership with the Warren County Prosecutor’s Office, One Voice of Hunterdon and the Safe Communities Coalition of Hunterdon-Somerset, and was hosted by the church.

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The prosecutors’ security initiative was established to address security concerns for houses of worship, religious community centers and classrooms. The focus was to promote awareness, mitigate risks, and address appropriate security and response protocols to incidents and crisis.

The Hunterdon County Prosecutor’s Safe Campus Initiative established uniform Standard Response Protocols for emergencies in schools throughout Hunterdon. Since 2012, the Prosecutor’s Office has trained school administrators, teachers, students, and staff members to adopt common language and responses to various types of school related emergencies, including active shooter events. These security initiatives are now being expanded to include Hunterdon’s business community and faith based organizations.

“We cannot ignore the potential for violence perpetrated against peaceful citizens while practicing their faith,” Kearns said in a press release. “We have an obligation to bring forth measures to assist faith based organizations to be better prepared to deal with these types of crisis.”

Lt. Kevin Burd of Kearns’ office and Bill Eppell of the Warren County Prosecutor’s Office conducted the presentation that focused on the response to crimes and violence committed at houses of worship. Clergy, staff and volunteers were provided information on reducing their risks and how they might respond to respond to crime and violence.

Included in the presentation was direction on how to access resources and materials specifically designed for the religious institutions by FEMA, Department of Homeland Security and the state Office of Homeland Security.

The presentation was attended by a diverse group of faith based representatives. The opening prayer was conducted by Pastor Nathan Tuckey. Father Harry Mazujian of Flemington’s Calvary Episcopal Church spoke about the One Voice initiative and its commitment to bring together law enforcement and faith-based leaders to address problems affecting the community.

“We are grateful to Pastor Nathan Tuckey of South Ridge Community Church for allowing us to bring our faith based community together to address these important issues,” Kearns said. “Together with One Voice, we are committed to addressing matters that affect the quality of life here in Hunterdon.”

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