In lieu of recent events involving the killing of at least 26 people in a shooting event last Sunday at a small Baptist Church in rural San Antonio, Vernon Parish Sheriff Sam Craft has taken preventative action.

He has conducted research into providing training to local churches in an effort to be proactive and prepared if the unthinkable were to take place within Vernon Parish. 

As a result, the Vernon Parish Sheriff's Office (VPSO) will be conducting a church security and assessment seminar at 5 p.m. on Nov. 28 at the First Assembly of God, 1204 S. 5th St. in Leesville.

This class is being offered, free of charge, to all local ministers including two representatives of the minister's choice.

The program will be based on the ALICE active shooter response system. ALICE (Alert, Lockdown, Inform, Counter, Evacuate) Training instructor-led classes provide preparation and a plan for individuals and organizations on how to more proactively handle the threat of an aggressive intruder or active shooter event.

Whether it is an attack by an individual person or by an international group of professionals intent on conveying a political message through violence, ALICE Training option-based tactics have become the accepted response, versus the traditional “lockdown only” approach.

According to the ALICE philosophy, protection and safety must be the priority in an active shooter event or terrorist attack. Circumstantial and operational concerns vary in every new situation.

ALICE Training provides options and classes that address the unique challenges specific to Police/LE, K-12 Schools, Healthcare Facilities, Higher Education, Businesses, Government, and Houses of Worship.“The challenges of house of worship are basically the same as a school or business,” stated Craft. “Each location presents unique circumstances such as the size, layout of the building, perhaps the rural location of the building, and the number of potential persons involved.”

The VPSO seminar is expected to last approximately three hours, depending on the number of attendees.

According to Craft, pastors will be able to schedule additional training at the conclusion of the Nov. 28 training. This would take place at the respective place of worship and will include the congregation.

VPSO hopes readers will make their pastors aware of the availability of this training.

Sabine Parish Sheriff's Office Chief Deputy Bradley Marr will be instructing the class.

Persons wishing to attend this training must RSVP by calling VPSO at 337-238-7248 no later than Nov. 24.

Questions about this training should be directed to Chief Detective Rhonda Jordan.