Law enforcement works with faith communities to help protect themselves from threats

Posted at 10:03 PM, Jun 15, 2017
and last updated 2017-06-16 01:07:22-04

DENVER -- Making places of worship safer was the focus of a meeting at the Shorter Community AME Church in north Denver Thursday night.

The meeting comes on the heels of the two year anniversary of the AME church massacre in South Carolina. Nine people were killed in that shooting.

Security experts, including the U.S. attorney, held a panel Thursday to teach those of all faiths how they can better protect themselves in these unsettling times.

Churches, mosques, and temples face a tricky balancing act: be welcoming to all but also keep the place of worship safe.

Dozens gathered to listen to advice from speakers about what can be done. Officials said threats can come from many places, not just radical ideology. It can be domestic violence or even gang activity. The meeting included ways to improve security like being aware of strangers, how to react when there is a threat and the “run, hide, fight” approach.

The U.S attorney in Colorado, Bob Troyer, said one of the most important ways to improve safety is the networking and relationships formed between the community and law enforcement.

"Law enforcement cannot do this alone. They have to train and that’s what this program is all about. They have to train people to take better care of themselves, especially those who have the instinct and the passion like church security leaders do to take care of others in the congregation," said Troyer.

Other basic guidelines included better lighting at places of worship and checking locks.

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security is one of the many agencies that sponsored the meeting. The department's website lists more information on what to do in the case of an active shooter.