Church security a top priority in the wake of Charleston violence

Church security a top priority in the wake of Charleston violence
Church security top of mind (Source: WOIO)

The murders in Charleston, South Carolina are at the forefront of many people's minds in religious circles.

Suspect Dylann Roof walked into a church that had little security and welcomed him with open arms and shot nine people to death.

The violence begs the question: Could this happen here? And, what safety measures are in place?

We did some digging and when it comes to religious services in northeast Ohio the majority of mosques and synagogues have a guard or police officer on duty for all services.

But, we found that most Christian denomination churches do not.

"I can't imagine how can we be anything else than opening our arms to people and risking ourselves for what we believe in," said Pastor Kenneth Chalker of University Circle United Methodist Church. "If we submit to fear and close our doors evil has won."

Greater Abyssinia Baptist Church Reverend E. Theophilus Caviness added, "We welcome people, so we might get hurt in the process, but in our hurt we are healed."

The Word Church, with four campuses in the Cleveland area, has a different take.

"I don't say this in a bragging way, but if it happened at The Word he wouldn't have reloaded. Absolutely not," said Pastor R. A. Vernon.

The Word has been employing law enforcement officers for more than a decade.

"People thought we were crazy. 'Oh, you are going to that church?! They have guns there!' Absolutely! The Bible says pray and watch" said Vernon.

We also found out the Catholic Cathedral of St. John has a police officer on duty during operating hours.

Copyright 2015 WOIO. All rights reserved.