Toolkit helps Ohio houses of worship prepare attack response

Toolkit helps Ohio houses of worship prepare attack response
(Source: WBRC Video)

COLUMBUS, OH (AP/FOX19) - Ohio officials have developed a free, online toolkit to help houses of worship discuss and prepare for how they would respond if they were attacked.

The toolkit provides guidance for tabletop preparedness exercises that can be used for congregations of various sizes, from large synagogues to small, rural churches, said Sima Merick, director of the Ohio Emergency Management Agency.

“Ohioans should feel comfortable and safe when they gather to worship,” Republican Gov. Mike DeWine said in the toolkit announcement from the EMA. “As attacks on houses of worship continue to escalate, it is incumbent on our religious institutions to be prepared.”

The announcement this week came days after a man fatally shot two people at a Texas church and was killed by a member of its volunteer security team.

Ohio officials also offer exercise-planning toolkits to help shopping malls and college campuses prepare for responding to an active shooter.

The Butler County Sheriff’s Office will be offering free concealed carry classes for churches that have or are adding security teams, according to a news release Tuesday.

Those who are interested will have to be involved in a church security team that is approved and set up by a church leader or administration.

Limited space is available so email the Butler County Sheriff’s Office at ccwclass@butlersheriff.org if you are interested in enrolling.

Copyright 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. FOX19 contributed to this report.