Richmond Police Department holds seminar promoting safety for houses of worship

Safety in places of worship forum

RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - Richmond Police held a seminar aimed at providing safety tips for houses of worship.

“We live in a dangerous and disturbing day,” said A. Lincoln James Jr., pastor of Trinity Baptist Church.

The pews were packed at Trinity Baptist Church as dozens attended a forum focused on making sure places of worship are protected.

“A lot of folks are under mindset of not if but when,” Richmond Police Chief Alfred Durham said.

Chief Alfred Durham said he is focused on making sure the community he serves is ready for whatever might happen.

“Twice a year we do this training as awareness for the parishioners and again I think there is an educational component,” Chief Durham said.

After the mass shooting at a Pittsburgh synagogue, Chief Durham is making sure his staff is prepped.

“First of all we say ‘Wow, thankfully it wasn’t here in Richmond’ but more importantly it puts us on our toes," Durham said.

“Now it seems like every year I do it, something has happened,” Richmond police officer Kimberly Cheatham said.

Cheatham has helped organize these talks for the department since 2012.

“It’s about awareness and getting a plan of action together just in case something happens. Just to give some ideas and things to think about,” Cheatham said.

“I am certain that it will come our way and we need to be prepared,” Pastor James said.

A. Lincoln James Jr. is the leader of the Trinity Baptist Church.

He’s been preaching for 51 years and at Trinity Baptist Church for 38 years. This is one concern the longtime pastor says he has never had.

“In 1980 when I came here it was never a thought it would happen. We didn’t even have a security team,” James said.

The church now has a security team and is ready for the realities of the world.

“Be prepared, practice, stay alert and be vigilant,” James said.

This community leader hopes the lessons taught at the seminar will save lives.

“Never say it won’t happen in my church or my neighborhood because that’s the attitude that will get you killed," James said.

Richmond police hold this seminar twice a year. It’s normally held at Richmond Police Department’s headquarters.

This is the first time organizers took it inside a local church.

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