HORRY COUNTY, SC (WMBF) – South Carolina FBI Special Agents will be in the Grand Strand this week teaching church leaders about active shooter situations at the Situational Awareness symposium being hosted by the Horry County Sheriff's Office.
In the wake of the recent tragedy in Charleston, the FBI began hosting these symposiums specifically for houses of worship throughout the state. The Mother Emanuel AME Church shooting and the most recent church shooting in Alabama has congregations talking about this subject despite many thinking they never would.
"We as pastors have questions and we are worried about a perp coming in the middle of service and interrupting," Langston Baptist Church Senior Pastor, Dr. Hampton Drum said.
Law enforcement says times have changed and churches need to be aware to stay safe.
"Since the events that have happened in down in Charleston we have seen an increase in calls from people concerned about the security of their churches," Horry County Sheriff Phillip Thompson stated.
The South Carolina FBI Special Agents will share lessons and information with the faith-based community at the Situational Awareness symposium.
"To bring an awareness, the pastor, to the lay people to the ushers in the church when someone walks in, just an awareness it will talk about an active shooter situation what to do what to advise your congregation," Sheriff Thompson explained.
The FBI plans to conduct these symposiums over the next several months throughout South Carolina.
"You know our society has changed so much, we never visualize something bad inside of our churches," Sheriff Thompson expressed.
Dr. Drum says where the symposium is being held shows that people of faith do not have all the answers and he is thankful that law enforcement is stepping in to give guidance.
"We are not professionals in the area of securing and protecting, we need advice, we need wisdom from those who are professionals," Dr. Drum stated.
The Situational Awareness symposium is this Thursday at Langston Baptist Church in Conway from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m.
"We can't go to church afraid, we just can't do that but we work to make it safe for our people," Sheriff Thompson said.