West Michigan church, law enforcement encouraging added security

Posted at 10:00 PM, Jun 18, 2015
and last updated 2015-06-18 23:15:13-04

HOLLAND, Mich. -- In wake of the tragic church shooting in South Carolina,  one law enforcement agency in West Michigan said that they`ve been working with churches for years to help increase security. These efforts would be aimed to help in the event they're targeted by a shooter or some sort of attacker.

"We look at churches and houses of worship as a soft target," said Capt. Jack Dykstra with the Holland Department of Public Safety.

The seats over at Ridge Point Community Church in Holland are empty now, but come the weekend more than 2,500 people will gather to worship.

Executive Pastor Scott Potter said that conversations about safety are nothing new.

"We have a team of law enforcement officers that have been helping us with that overall all over these years, putting in best practices kind of within a church environment," said Potter.

Dykstra said that for about a decade, he's been researching and speaking with local church leaders about ways to improve safety in the event they become a target of an active shooter.

"We take the security of churches very seriously and we do assessments actually for churches as part of our public service," said Dykstra.

While some precautions like metal detectors may help keep people safe, Dykstra said that there are some measures that many churchgoers may feel are too extreme for a place of worship.

"I don't think any type of church wants that kind of environment where you're, you know being searched as you come in the door. No one would want to go there," said Dykstra.

Following the tragic shooting that killed nine people in a South Carolina church, Dykstra said that he`d like to see the church community continue to build their relationship with law enforcement.