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Seminar focuses on keeping places of worship safe

The Butler County Sheriff’s Office, the Second Judicial District Attorney’s Office and the Greenville Police Department are holding a one-day seminar on protecting places of worship.

Butler County Sheriff Kenny Harden said in light of recent church shootings around the country, he felt it was important to offer the course to local church leaders and law enforcement.

“We want to be proactive rather than reactive,” said Harden.

The seminar, which will be held Nov. 19 from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., will be led by Thomas Gillan, church safety and security specialist that is based in Florida. He is a retired investigator.

“Out of 4,000 churches, we find 20 percent say, ‘We don’t need any security because we’re protected. We have higher power here,’” Gillan said. “As soon as the [Emanuel AME] shooting happened in Charleston, the phone began to ring off the hook.”

Gillian said the seminar is meant in part to held shore up relationships between churches and local law enforcement.

“The whole idea behind this is building relationships. It’s faith-based communities getting together with law enforcement and doing something that would help prevent a situation,” Gillan said.

The seminar is free.

Harden said space is limited and asked that those interested RSVP by calling (334) 382-6521.

“We’re looking at 50 spots, but if we have the response we can probably stretch to 70,” he said.