Darlington County Sheriff’s Office hosts church security forum

DARLINGTON, SC (WBTW) – The Darlington County Sheriff’s Office held a forum with religious leaders and community members Monday night to offer resources to ensure safety in churches.

“We can do active shooter training, we can do security assessments of their actual facilities,” said Lt. Robert Kilgo. “Sit down with those folks and make sure they have a plan in place so in case something does happen, they can be prepared for it.”

He said Monday night’s discussion was about making the community aware of all safety options and precautions.

“The point of tonight was to bring the faith-based community together so that we could put faces with names,” he said. “Especially with our office so that the faith-based community would know who to reach out to so that we could provide them with training if they wanted, and so we can give them the basic information to take back from here, present it to their communities, and to their churches.”

Lt. Kilgo said the sheriff’s office will offer free active shooter training and security assessments to any Darlington church.

“We’ll send personnel there and we’ll take a look at their facility, we’ll take a look at the plan they may already have in place,” he said. “We’ll go back, we’ll look at it, and maybe present them with something better and look at some threat levels they may face and make sure they are well prepared for anything that may happen.”

He said there’s also an option for the church to pay $25 per hour for a deputy to provide security.

Pastor at Zion Missionary Baptist Church, Samuel Fulmore, said after the church shooting in Texas that left 26 dead, he wanted to utilize every resource he could. He said his church has already done the active shooter training hosted by the Darlington County Sheriff’s Office and that he went to the meeting Monday night to stay informed.

“With all that’s going on across the country, with people coming in the churches and killing people, I wanted to be aware of what’s going on,” said Fulmore.

He said the location of his church can sometimes make him worry of a possible threat, even though he has a security team in place.

“We’re in a rural area so I’ve been a little concerned for my people due to the fact that we’re out of the city limits,” the Pastor said.

Fulmore said the security at his church makes both he, and his congregation, feel safe.

“We have a security team at the church that looks out for the parishioners and the pastors at the church to make sure that we are protected, just in case someone would come in to try to harm us,” said Fulmore.

Many religious leaders in the room said they also have security teams in place. Ken Cogley does concealed weapon training and runs security at Greater Heights Baptist Church. He said he is one of seven in charge of protecting parishioners during service.

“We have somebody on the front door at all times, watching” Cogley said. “We don’t want anybody coming in and having something like what happened in Texas and Charleston happening here.”

He said he takes his job seriously and thinks it’s important to have security inside churches at all times. Cogley said he hasn’t received any complaints about the added security.

“I don’t have any law enforcement background, I just have that kind of mindset where I think about that kind of stuff,” said Cogley. “We make sure that our pastor and all of our people in the church are safe.”

Lt. Kilgo said the department has held a few active shooter training classes for churches in the area already, and plans to hold more after Monday night’s discussion.

“We want them to know what services we offer, that we are there for them, that we can come out to their churches,” said Lt. Kilgo. “Facilitate these plans for them and help them and take a look at their security and making sure it’s the best that they can provide.”