AUGUSTA, Ga. – Historically, houses of worship have served as places of sanctuary, centers of the community and symbols of peace. But many houses of worship have become targets for recent violence and must prepare for unique threats affecting their congregations.
In an effort to better safeguard area houses of worship, Augusta University Department of Sociology, Criminal Justice, & Social Work and the U.S. Attorney’s Office of the Southern District of Georgia present the Houses of Worship: Safety and Security Summit from 8:30 to 11:30 a.m. Tuesday, Nov. 24, at the Maxwell Performing Arts Theater, 2500 Walton Way. Senior officials from the United States Department of Homeland Security, United States Department of Justice, Georgia Emergency Management Agency, and local law enforcement will participate in this free event.
Marcus Coleman, special assistant in the Homeland Security department’s Center for Faith-based and Neighborhood Partnerships, is keynote speaker. Ed Tarver, U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Georgia, will moderate.
“This is an important community event, and an opportunity to learn how to better protect our houses of worship in emergencies or from potential threats,” said Dr. William A. Reese, professor of sociology and criminal justice. “It’s an opportunity to connect and share ideas with law enforcement and other faith leaders about the unique challenges of providing safety and security for congregations and facilities of faith-based organizations.”
Other presentations include speakers from Praise and Preparedness, Federal Bureau of Investigation, Richmond County Sheriff’s Office, and Columbia County Sheriff’s Office, plus details on a new 2016 National Institute of Justice software application to help law enforcement and Houses of Worship develop campus-specific safety and security plans. The event also includes a featured showing of the newly released FBI video, “The Coming Storm,” depicting a college-campus active shooter scenario and interviews with victims and incident commanders.