Centre churches to get active shooter training



BELLEFONTE — Mass shootings have happened in many different places in the United States, from workplaces and restaurants to schools and houses of worship. Given the current climate — the most recent mass shooting in the U.S. occurred at the newspaper offices of the Capital Gazette in Annapolis, Md. less than two weeks ago — churchgoers in Centre County want to be prepared.

The South Central Mountains Regional Task Force is teaming up with the Department of Homeland Security and local law enforcement to present an active shooter response training Aug. 17 for houses of worship in the county, reported Jeff Wharran, director of the Centre County Emergency Management Agency.

The three-hour comprehensive training will outline preparations against and responses to active shooter situations based on DHS practices tailored to houses of worship.

Presenters will discuss how to identify the personalities and behaviors of potential shooters and curtail them before they became active shooters. They also will discuss individual and organizational preparation, shooter response, and recovery.

Local law enforcement will describe their agency’s response to these types of events and will provide ideas on how to assemble an emergency response committee for different houses of worship.

“It’s terrible that we have to provide this training and people ask about that, but it’s the world we live in,” Wharran said.

He said the county sheriff’s office will be at the training to schedule appointments with worship leaders for security site assessments, which can help identify vulnerable areas and potential risks at their facilities.

DHS has hosted successful active shooter trainings in Jersey Shore and Hollidaysburg. Wharran said the demand for training is growing.

“We believe this (training) is gonna fill up rather quick,” he said. Registration closes one week before the training.

To catch people who will not be able to make it to the August training, the South Central Mountains Regional Task Force will host another training with DHS in October.