Troy police outreach program aims to keep houses of worship safe

By: Terry Oparka | Troy Times | Published February 6, 2018

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TROY — Although there has not been an uptick in incidents overall at the 57 houses of worship in Troy, police plan to offer a safety and security program for faith leaders. 

Troy Police Department Sgt. Meghan Lehman said Fortify, a new safety and security program, is geared toward church leaders and security staff at houses of worship. 

Troy police will host the free “Protecting the Flock” training class for house of worship leaders in April. The program is offered in partnership with Forever Vigilant LLC, and it will cover best practices, common threats, scenario training and the need for house of worship security.

Last month, Brian Glance was arraigned in the 52-4 District Court on charges of carrying a concealed weapon and malicious destruction of property after he allegedly fired a shot from a 9 mm handgun at a window in Zion Church the morning of Jan. 10, police said.  

Police received a call at 4:58 a.m. that day from a man who said that Zion Church is a spaceship for reptile aliens and “he took care of it.” 

Troy Police Chief Gary Mayer said that churches strive to be “inviting, warm and welcome, and (to) give everyone the benefit of the doubt.” 

He said church, temple, mosque, or synagogue staff or congregants may be reluctant to confront someone they believe could be experiencing mental illness or psychological problems. 

Lehman said that one of the instructors in the program is a pastor who is familiar with this issue and will help present strategies on the best way to engage someone who is mentally ill or experiencing psychological issues. 

“Our aim is to be a partner and resource for our places of worship to help them strengthen their ability to protect themselves through training and site target hardening,” Mayer said.

He explained that site target hardening involves having secure door locks, cameras and alarm systems. Keeping money or safes in secure locations and counting money behind closed doors also “harden the target.” 

Mayer said the program covers ways to prepare for the possibility of an active shooter, such as having an evacuation plan and ensuring that the building is easily accessible to emergency workers. 

He stressed that the program is a way to be proactive. 

“We want to make sure people have a plan,” Mayer said. 

Advance registration is required, and class size is limited. 

Registration and further information about “Protecting the Flock” classes — including dates, times and locations — can be found at troymi.gov/departments/police; click under News and Events. 

For more information, call Lehman at (248) 619-7263 or send an email to brodericme@troymi.gov.