Following a shooting by a gunman that left at least 26 dead in a Sutherland Springs church Nov. 5, the Williamson County Sheriff’s Office and area law enforcement are hosting a summit to equip faith groups on how to address security in active shooter events.
The summit will take place from 3 to 5 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 19 at Celebration Church, 601 Westinghouse Rd. in Georgetown. Cedar Park and Leander police will also be present.
About 40 to 50 faith groups in Williamson County have expressed interest in attending to learn how to better protect their parishioners, said Sheriff Robert Chody.
The summit will be a starting point in a series to discuss and recommend security and safety needs in worship centers of all sizes.
“This is a program our deputies went through, some of it is about dealing with an active shooter on the civilian side and what choices they have to better protect them,” Chody said. “They’re going to learn the dangers of being armed, how to identify yourself, and understand the laws if you decide to carry.
“There’s a million things we could be discussing, and we want to get at least a starting point at those. ”
In regard to recent mass shootings, Chody said he believes mental health should be a top priority for all levels of government.
“When we talk about gun control, I think we need to have some discussion, but what fixes the issue for next Sunday?” Chody said. “That won’t fix the issue, but that’s my responsibility as a sheriff of a community of over half a million people. We owe an immediate response to our community.”
Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton said in the aftermath of the Sutherland Springs shooting on Fox News that "arming some of the parishioners or the congregation" could help stop similar attacks from occurring in the future.
A recent state law put into effect in September — authored by State Rep. Matt Rinaldi (R-Irving) — made it legal for churches to have armed volunteer guards.
Interested groups are asked to RSVP to the event with the number of people in their party to firstname.lastname@example.org or call (512) 943-1300 and ask for Deputy Badder for more info.
— Sheriff Robert Chody (@SheriffChody) November 15, 2017
80+ churches over 350+ person(s) registered to attend the Williamson County Sheriff’s security summit partnered with central Texas Police agencies. pic.twitter.com/9NISqmSlOu