Police Brief Community in Response to Deadly Texas Shooting
Michael McGee is a local father of four and church pastor. Like the rest of the nation, he’s still making sense of the deadly shooting at a church in Sutherland Springs, Texas.
“I think because of the safety of our community, we take something like that [safety] for granted,” said McGee.
McGee isn’t naive, though, and the safety of his hundreds of churchgoers is always on his mind. They’ve made some changes, which include locking all the doors except for one and installing panic bars.
“It’s in that moment that you have to be very aware because when you feel too cautious, you never know what can then happen,” said McGee.
For the past 18 months, McGee and his church have been preparing safety plans, including what to do in the event of an active shooter.
“We are concerned that the people come to worship that they’re also safe,” said McGee. “Who better to reach out [to] than law enforcement?”
Law enforcement does have something to say in the wake of a conversation shaking the nation.
“Yeah, [in] a perfect world, I’d be unemployed,” said Lieutenant Jeff Garden of the Sioux Falls Police Department. “So yeah, it absolutely is unfortunate we have to talk about this.”
Sioux Falls police officers have tips for local businesses and places of worship.
They say to have a comprehensive, written plan for crises, limit access to only supervised doors, have a surveillance system where footage can be reviewed from a smartphone, and limit landscaping so no one can hide.
“Pick any event that’s happened in the news, and should that happen where they’re at, if it were to happen, then what would they do?” said Garden. “How would they respond? Just take a moment and roleplay that in your mind if you will.”
Police say their most important safety tip is to be aware, but don’t stress too much.
“I don’t want anybody to become hypervigilant – where they’re at and where their environments are because it will stress a person out unnecessarily,” said Garden.