Knoxville church explains security plan after Atlanta shooting

Knoxville church explains security plan after Atlanta shooting

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By JESSA LEWIS
6 News Reporter

KNOXVILLE (WATE) - Following the megachurch shooting in Atlanta Wednesday morning, First Baptist Church in Downtown Knoxville opened up about how they keep their members safe.

First Baptist welcomes all people, and make sure they keep everyone who comes in safe.

"I think that's the big test, as to whether you can walk that line to still be welcoming and warming but to be safe," said Pam Neal, the minister of administration at First Baptist. "That's why I think our plan is important to have a very subtle plan.

"It's not something where people see those people and know that they're in place, but we know they're in place and they know what to do should something happen."

The volunteer security team dresses in normal clothes to patrol the church, but that's only part of the plan. There is also an intricate system to make sure the younger members are safe while their parents are in church.

"Our preschoolers come and check in, the parents bring them to the preschool floor, they are signed in, they are labeled, the parents are given a pager and that number is recorded,"said Susan Tatum, minister to preschool and children at the church. "So if we need to find a parent that morning, all we have to do is page them." 

Security is something churches didn't spend as much time thinking about in the past.

"I've always felt like we need to keep our facilities safe, and keep our people safe, but I think the last few years especially since we did have a church shooting here in Knoxville back in 2008," Neal said "We are more aware of it and people are more willing to have that kind of plan in place and take steps to be safe."

Today's world requires such plans.

"Unfortunately we're living in times where we're having to think through things we've never had to think through before," Tatum said.

Tatum also told said it's nice being able to teach and work with the children and knowing there are people watching over them.

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