Speaking of Stanly County residents, Sheriff George T. Burris says he feels “everybody is my citizen and I need to put their safety at the forefront.”

In accordance, Stanly County Sheriff’s Office will offer a church safety seminar at 7 p.m. Dec. 19 at the Stanly County Agri-Civic Center. The event will include Burris and a panel from the sheriff’s office to discuss ways churches can make their worshippers feel safer.

This comes more than a month after a gunman opened fire during a Sunday service at a small Texas church that left 26 individuals, including a pregnant woman, dead.

Burris said a similar safety program was conducted a few years ago and he said he felt now is the time for another one.

“It really hit after the last shooting at the church in Texas and I always want to be proactive for citizens,” Burris said. “We’re going to discuss everything from church safety, building safety, security teams, being secure in the church, concealed carry, being able to identify suspects.”

Burris said he has received a good response so far, with even church leaders from outside of Stanly asking to attend.

“We’ve been very fortunate in Stanly County, but over the last two years it’s got a lot rougher around us and in the nation,” Burris said.

He said he wants his office and the county to be more educated on safety issues.

“This isn’t about denominations, this is about us as a whole, Stanly County citizens, feeling safe in our respective churches,” Burris said. “We want people to be able to worship and not worry.”

Following the messages by Burris and the panelists, a question-and-answer session is scheduled.

In addition to this program, Burris said his office has been conducting safety procedures at a few churches over the last several months, looking at ways to install cameras, cut back shrubbery and do walk-throughs of the church and form exit plans.

Have a story idea? Call B.J. Drye at (704) 982-2121 ext. 25, email or follow bjdrye1 on Twitter.

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