Sheriff Mike Lewis working with local churches to improve safety

The lives of 26 people were lost last weekend following that devastating church shooting in Texas. Now local law enforcement is saying we need to do more to be prepared.

In a recent Facebook post, Wicomico County's Sheriff Mike Lewis said, "We must plan and better prepare ourselves for future mass shootings."

47ABC spoke with Sheriff Lewis on Friday. He said, "When I go to church on Sunday mornings, I typically do not wear my weapon. It's one place I feel comfortable going in where I don't have to wear it, but that's now changed for me. It's changed for all of us."

Sheriff Mike Lewis stated in the Facebook post that he feels that off duty officers should now carry their weapons on them at all times, even in church.

Sheriff Lewis told 47ABC, "We don't like to carry a gun when we're off duty, we like to enjoy our families we like to enjoy our friends and our fellow parishioners at a church but the reality is, this is 2017, those days are gone and we need to prepare ourselves for the future."

He said that he is working with local churches in the area like Emmanuel Wesleyan Church and Allen Memorial Baptist Church to hold seminars to better prepare the public for an active shooter situation.

Sheriff Lewis said, "We're going to put together a program that I think will benefit not only our congregations and our churches and our pastoral staff throughout the region, but I think it would also benefit business men and women here in our area."

Local churches said they think the program is a step in the right direction.

Josh Foster, a Communicator at Emmanuel Wesleyan Church said, "I think it's a big step, you know? People always think that something is not going to happen here, something is not going to happen there, but you don't wanna be on the other side saying what if we could have done this better? What if we could have done that better? I think these steps are a great precaution."

They said their church members don't seem to be concerned with the idea of having armed off-duty officers in their churches.

Bruce Glisson, the Executive Pastor at Allen Memorial Baptist Church said, "As I've been talking with the people in our church this past week, yes, no one has shown concern that we're going to have armed security here. I think they're actually relieved that we're wanting to be proactive and ensure that our people are protected on Sunday."

Overall, Sheriff Mike Lewis and local pastors agree that the end goal is safety.

Glisson said, "Our desire is to protect everyone that comes to church. We see the people that come through the doors as our family and we want to protect them as if they were our own children coming through the doors."

Sheriff Lewis told 47ABC these seminars will provide the public with the latest advice and information that's being offered not only from law enforcement, but from the FBI as well.

These seminars should be occurring in the next two or three weeks.

If you are interested in attending one of those seminars, Sheriff Mike Lewis said he will be posting the dates of the seminars on his personal Facebook page as well as the Wicomico County Sheriff's Office page.

Categories: Local News, Maryland