Austintown police offer churches security plan - WFMJ.com News weather sports for Youngstown-Warren Ohio

Austintown police offer churches security plan

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AUSTINTOWN, Ohio -

The recent church shootings have left many people fearful of the place where they once found solitude.

The Highway Tabernacle Church in Austintown has put in place new measures to ensure their congregation feels safe.

The Austintown police developed the idea of "safety teams" for churches.

The goal of the program is to mitigate emergencies, including active shooter situations. 

The department offered the plan to churches across the township. 

The Highway Tabernacle is the first to fully implement the plan which uses a team of current and retired law enforcement, EMTs, nurses, and other volunteers.

"The church will have someone in the parking lot at all times, someone in the outer hallways and rooms outside the sanctuary. If there's childcare, they]have somebody in with the child care and have someone in the sanctuary. So it's kind of a rigged system" says Austintown Police Lieutenant Bill Hoelzel. 

The team members will communicate through discrete ear pieces and microphones. 

As part of the plan, only one door will remain open after church services start.

There will also be extra security with childcare. Parents and children will now receive matching barcodes which will be used when picking up children. 

While the law enforcement and retired officers will carry firearms, the team will also be equipped with 'go bags' of supplies to deal with medical emergencies.

They will be trained in how to handles other disasters, such as severe weather, as well.

The Austintown Police Department provides training for local businesses for active shooter situations. For more information about the training call 330-799-9721.

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