Churches in CSRA ramping up security

Friday, March 1, 2019
News 12 at 6 O'Clock

AUGUSTA, Ga. (WRDW/WAGT) -- For most people, the church is their safe haven. But in Toni Tiedeman's eyes, you're never really safe.

"The church is where you should feel safe. That's where you should be able to go and worship and be yourself and all that and not have to be on guard," Tiedeman said. "We get threats at the church and the shootings at churches and we just find it's important to put practice into place."

There are about 1,000 churches in the CSRA. Many of them are ramping up their security. Aaron Cohrs is a security guard at Whole Life Ministries.

"There have been threats against the pastors lives," Aaron Cohrs said." There have been people parked across the street from churches and when law enforcement approached them, there were long guns, there was a lot of ammunition and there were drugs."

Cohrs says he hopes he'll never have to put his training into action, but if he does, he's prepared.

"There's been shootings in Charleston, they've been outside San Antonio, the synagogue in Pennsylvania," Cohrs said.

The number of deadly force incidents at churches in the U.S. peaked in 2017 at 261.

Tracy Freeman is a member of Laura Grove Baptist Church. They have not had security measures in place, but he says, that's about the change.

"We are looking into placing cameras in the church, radios, personnel in key positions," Freeman said.

Because he says, it's better to be safe than sorry.

"I hope that nothing happens where we ever have to put any training in place, but you never know when," Freeman said.