Area churches struggle to balance security with sanctity

Hampden County

SOMERS, Conn. & CHICOPEE, Mass. (WWLP) – Schools aren’t the only places where safety is a concern. School shootings are fresh in our mind, but Charleston, South Carolina reminds us they are not the only public buildings at risk.

“It’s a different world,” said Somers Congregational Church Senior Deacon Anne Kirkpatrick. Kirkpatrick said the Connecticut State Police held a presentation at the church last week attended by more than 100 people to discuss safety. Ideas like painting the doors to make it easier for first responders to identify a point of entry.

The Somers Congregational Church is no stranger to tragic events. Back on January 1st of 2012, their original house of worship burned to the ground. Now, they are taking a more proactive approach to safety.

“We do have a security system and an alarm system. Which is good. It makes people feel safer. But there is no guarantee that someone can’t charge into a building with an AR-15 and do damage,” said Kirkpatrick.

Meanwhile, back in western Massachusetts, Chicopee Police are holding a two-day training course in July for city businesses and churches. A day of in classroom instruction and a day of off-site scenarios where you’ll learn potentially life-saving tactics that you can take and teach to others.

“There are times where you may want to shelter in an office, there are other times where you may want to pick up a fire extinguisher or a chair or some type of object. And if somebody enters a room, you go. You do what you need to do to get out,” explained Chicopee Police Officer Mike Wilk.

Churches told 22News they walk a fine line between enhancing safety and maintaining the sanctity of a church atmosphere.

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