July 25, 2016

Partly cloudy

Church security seminar

Religion Editor

MEDINA — Churches concerned about increasing safety and security for their congregations are invited to attend a seminar hosted by the Medina County Career Center and Medina Assembly of God Church. The seminar will be held 8:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Oct. 25 at the Medina County Career Center, C.E. Hawley Room, 1101 W. Liberty St. The cost is $10 and includes a light buffet lunch. Seating is limited; participants must register by Oct. 17.

Pastors, ushers, church staff and board members can learn about recognizing potential threats to the church environment and effectively handling those situations, handling impaired individuals and legal rights and responsibilities.

“We hope to create an awareness in church, (for example, for the ushers and staff during a church service) to recognize someone who could be a threat and methods of dealing with them,” said Kent W. Patterson, commander of the Medina County Career Center Law Enforcement Academy, who is coordinating the program with the Rev. Ron Dress, pastor of Medina Assembly of God Church.

Although many area churches have security systems in place, there is a growing need for heightened awareness and education to raise the level of protection.

“Our quest (for this type of information) started at a staff meeting,” Dress said. “Security issues are becoming more relevant to congregations, more of a concern. Churches are more vulnerable, and we’ve had to ask how we can protect ourselves.”

The church contacted Patterson for advice. What started as an security education session for Medina Assembly grew into the seminar as more pastors expressed interest.

Instructors and classes are:
o Jim Bigam, director of security at Medina General Hospital and retired detective Medina City Police Department, and Deputy Sgt. Scott Schmoll, Medina County Sheriff’s Department — Identify and safely deal with people who may be mentally impaired or under the influence of drugs or alcohol;

o Officer Dave Medina, 22-year veteran with the Cleveland Police Department, Ohio Peace Officer Training Commission certified instructor — How to restrain and secure armed people while providing protection for the congregation;

o Louise Brown, Medina County Job and Family Services — Elder and child abuse detection and reporting;

o Jonelle Meredith, communications coordinator Medina County Sheriff’s Department — 911 communications; and

o Dean Holman, Medina County Prosecutor — legal issues.

Patterson said those attending the seminar will be invited to have knowledgeable personnel evaluate their buildings and offer suggestions to improve security, if they desire.

For more information and to register, contact Dress at 330-725-4887.

Totts may be reached at religion@ohio.net.