Randall Wright, chief of the police department of Fremont, Mich., has been teaching Civilian Response to Active Shooter Events (CRASE) in his community since December 2016. First Christian Reformed Church in Fremont, along with the city’s other Christian Reformed congregations and those in the surrounding region making up Classis Muskegon, welcomed Wright to their Spring 2017 classis meeting. First CRC and others have been putting Wright’s training into practice, developing church security teams and implementing protocols for responding to a crisis in a church’s public space.
“Part of his emphasis was on ‘active shooters,’ a topic that is relevant to any public gathering or workplace,” said Classis Muskegon stated clerk Rev. Drew Sweetman, pastor at First CRC. “It was a response to what we've seen going on in the world around us.”
The regional group of churches made Wright’s presentation available to every member church. Sweetman said the police chief had conducted safety audits in the churches of Fremont; leaders thought the information would be helpful to churches who may not have access to such resources.
The focus for Wright is on preparedness. “The CRASE class is a one-and-a-half-hour class that emphasizes the run/hide/fight and avoid/deny/defend theories,” he said. “The response has been positive, and every church I have trained and assessed has made changes.”
For First CRC, changes have included the establishment of a security team and installing monitoring cameras and magnetic door locks in the last few months. Rick Mansfield, volunteer chair of the new four-person security team said the church’s audiovisual setup for recording regular services made the new installations relatively simple. He anticipates the team meeting with Wright in the near future to review their plans. “We feel we are now ahead of the game . . . right now we are ready to secure and protect,” Mansfield said.
“It’s one of those things that we lament (setting up security cameras, locking doors, and the like), but feel is necessary given what is happening around us,” Sweetman said.