VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (WAVY) – Threats to churches and religious communities are on the rise, according to the Family Research Council. Now, a local organization wants to make sure you know what to do if you are faced with a mass shooting situation.
The Church Security Institute of Virginia Beach teamed up with the nationally renowned Active Shooter Prevention Project to present a two-part series. It’s called “Worship Without Worry and The Gift of Time.”
“I want to stop active shooters, and I believe we can. I don’t think that’s just a bombastic idea. I think it’s possible,” said Chris Grollnek, Managing Principal of Active Shooter Prevention Project.
Grollnek was a police officer in 2010 when a mass shooting happened at his police department, the McKinney Police Department, in Texas. In 2012, he wrote a master’s thesis on active shooters from the perspective of someone who experienced an active shooter situation. Now retired from the force, Grollnek does all he can to teach people the skills they need to grow their chances of survival when faced with a mass shooter.
“What I want to promote is the opportunity to do something more than watch TV and be appalled the next time one of these happens, and I’m here to tell you, they’re going to happen,” Grollnek said.
Grollnek said when he was approached by The Church Security Institute of Virginia Beach to speak with Hampton Roads residents, he knew he had to agree. He’s doing it all for free.
“The first portion is going to be called the Gift of Time, and really that’s developing an understanding of what happens during an active shooter and why our bodies process what they do. The actual odds of being involved in an active shooter, which are so low, and I try to really beat back the philosophy that when this happens in your area, you know, I’ll use phrases as ‘when what if becomes what now,’ but that’s just simply for preparation.”
It’s the preparation Grollnek says is key.
“When you go to the seminar and you see The Gift of Time, you’ll understand, OK, this incident just happened from 0-8 minutes. It took the police eight minutes to get there. What do you do for the eight minutes?”
Grollnek emphasizes those minutes are precious time. He wants to give you some of that time back.
“The threats that are coming up, you need not look further than the newspaper this morning, bomb threats have increased in churches tenfold, and to the Jewish community, thirtyfold. Instead of why, let’s look at the how we can respond to that and literally get the gift of time.”
He says there is a better solution that just run, hide, fight, and he says you can learn the details of that soluation at this free seminar.
“You have to find an excuse to come. Really, that’s really the bottom line. There’s going to be 100 excuses not to come, and you have to find the ones stronger than the ones not to show up, and when you show up, you’re going to walk out with hope and determination, and you’re going to understand there is no real fear to be had.”
While the second portion of the event is called “Worship Without Worry,” Grollnek says the lesson learned apply to anyone, not just churchgoers. He says everything learned can be applied to any potential active shooter situation no matter the location.
Worship Without Worry and The Gift of Time seminar is Saturday, October 14, from 8:30 a.m. to noon. For full details, including ticket information, click here.