NN police to offer safety course for congregations


NEWPORT NEWS, Va. (WAVY) — Police Chief Steve Drew wants congregations to be proactive. He’s offering a class where they can learn to prevent, or at least minimize, the kind of horrible incident that happened over the weekend in Pittsburgh.

“Often when those things happen, there’s a phone call to police, and it’s a bad day. Something’s already happened and now we’re responding.”

Drew wants to flip that script. He plans to give houses of worship in Newport News a fighting chance against mass casualties similar to what happened over the weekend at a Pittsburgh Synagogue.

Pittsburgh is only the latest massacre at a place of worship, and with each one police learn more. Now, Drew wants to pass along that life-saving information so that a plan is already in place.

“We’ll offer that class here, about a four-hour block, at police headquarters. We’ll work with pastors or their heads of security.”

Drew says a good plan will involve church personnel recognizing potential danger. That doesn’t necessarily mean someone walking in with an assault rifle.

“Someone’s having some odd behavior, let deacons deal with them in the foyer before they ever get to the church.”

Drew says the class will also look at what happens when someone who’s licensed to carry brings their weapon into the pew with them.

For that part, someone from the Commonwealth’s Attorney’s office will talk about whether it’s legal to have a gun in church, and whether that adds liability for the place of worship.

The department plans to have the class in early December, and when we get an exact date, we’ll pass it along here and on air.

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