Texas church shooting prompts security checks at Flagler churches

By Brittany Jones, Flagler County Reporter
Last Updated: Friday, November 10, 2017, 7:38 PM EST

The Flagler County Sheriff's Office Homeland Security unit is now doing security checks at local churches in response to last Sunday's mass shooting at the church in Texas.

  • Flagler County Sheriff's Office doing security checks for churches
  • They want to look at protecting churches from shootings
  • Recommendations may include metal detectors, armed security, more locked doors

Local pastors in the county are planning to take advantage of this opportunity.

“We never thought about securing this building to keep people from coming in and doing whatever they want to do as far as evil,” said Rev. Elijah Emanuel, pastor of House of Joy.

Rev. Emanuel said keeping watch on the door is necessary to keep his congregation, safe. His church has about 40 members -- a small church where he said everyone is welcome inside.

“We have an open door policy, so it would be hard to detect who is the right person coming in and who's not the right person to come in, because we're supposed to allow everyone to come in,” said Rev. Emanuel.

However he said he’s seen that not everyone is coming into the place of worship with good intentions, especially after places of worship have become the targets of mass shootings.

“There’s lots of different things that churches can do, and our goal is to look at their buildings, look at their operations and give them some recommendations,” said Sheriff Rick Staly.

Sheriff Staly mentioned recommendations including adding metal detectors, armed security and possibly keeping more doors locked with less access to the buildings.

“It raises awareness, it gives them some ideas of how to protect their service when they're having a church service,” said Sheriff Staly. 

The sheriff said it's important the churches have an emergency plan in place to protect those inside.

Rev. Emanuel says they’ll be meeting with their church leaders and deputies to decide the best options. For now, he said he's still standing in the pulpit fearless, praying these extra checks will keep evil people out.

“Whenever I'm in the pulpit I feel safe. Just continue to pray and start speaking that no weapon formed against us shall prosper,” said Rev. Emanuel.

The sheriff said so far they've done one security assessment at a church this week.

If you'd like them to do a check contact the homeland security office. The number to call to schedule the security check is 386-586-4837 or send an email to RStroud@flaglersheriff.com.