The deadly shooting at the First Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs, Texas, earlier this month was horrible and senseless. However, this tragic incident is creating a sense of urgency for house of worships and other venues to be proactive when it comes to the unthinkable happening here.

The Cullman Police Department and Cullman County Sheriff’s Office are working closely with church congregations wanting assistance in developing a safety plan that might head off a potential shooter, and what to do if someone begins to fire a weapon in or near a church.

An event last week at Temple Baptist Church sponsored by the sheriff’s office drew 1,500 Cullman County residents seeking advice on how make church services safe.

Yes, to think society has sunken to the point that going to a worship service is a potentially dangerous act is sad – our world seems to change daily.

Unstable, evil individuals have invaded schools, concerts, night clubs, malls, movie theaters, businesses and churches to commit the senseless murder of hundreds in recent years across the United States. 

And, of course, such acts are not limited to our country. Europe has fallen victim to random violence, too. The Middle East, in a perpetual state of war, continues to be a killing field.

Cullman County is a community of churches, small and large, that are heavily attended not just on Sunday, but throughout the week for various programs. 

While violent crime is not rampant locally, no one in the small south Texas town thought it could happen in Sutherland on a Sunday morning during a church service.

The motivation for the church shooter is likely different from why a man killed more than 50 people at a Las Vegas concert, but the result is the same when unpredictable behavior is in play.

There is not a blanket answer covering why these horrific crimes happen, nor is there a foolproof means of detecting who may be plotting the next mass murder that will shock our nation to its core.

For that simple reason, Cullman Police Chief Kenny Culpepper and Sheriff Matt Gentry accurately encourage people in churches, businesses or any place where people gather in numbers to be prepared. Train and have a plan.

Local law enforcement officials are proactive in training and preparing for worst-case scenarios. They don’t talk about the training a lot, but they have studied carefully the deadly events in other areas and taken steps to make our community’s public events as safe as possible.

We applaud and appreciate the dedication of local law enforcement working with the community to provide training and assist with planning for what might happen. And, we pray that such an act of violence never becomes a reality in Cullman or any community. 

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