(KMSP) - In the wake of a deadly church shooting in Nashville, metro religious community leaders are taking steps to improve safety at their places of worship.
Nearly two months ago, an IED exploded at the Dar Al Farooq Islamic Center in Bloomington. The incident shook the entire Minnesota faith community.
“It does bring that awareness and some fear,” said Patrick Tapp, chairman of the board of finance for First Lutheran Church in Columbia Heights. “I mean the biggest part of the church is called a sanctuary and that's where we want to feel protected where we want to feel safe.”
Saturday, Tapp was among religious community members attending a security workshop for places of worship.
“It's all about having that plan that you have to use when it hits the fan, as it were,” said Tapp.
Just last weekend in Nashville a gunman opened fire at a church, killing one and injuring seven. Police found a note in the suspect's car, which referenced revenge against Dylann Roof, the gunman in the deadly South Carolina church shooting in 2015.
James Densley, an associate professor at Metropolitan State University, studies crime trends.
“There's not a great amount a data which is one of the challenges, but what we do know is there has been a sort of rise in violent crime that has been perpetrated in places of worship and particularly a rise nationally in hate crime,” said Densley.
Security experts say it's important for religious leaders to have plan in place.
“Staff training, security ordinance, protecting your perimeter,” said Simon Osamoh, Kingswood Security director. “This conference is designed to make people consider those options. It's not just about knowing the risk, you have to take action.”
Osamoh also advises places of worship, much like businesses or schools, should have three to five year plans and conduct regular security audits.