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Bates County, MO Sheriff discusses safety plans with churches

Posted: 5:41 PM, Nov 06, 2017
Updated: 2017-11-06 18:41:22-05

BATES COUNTY, Mo. — For more than 50 years, Mike Humphrey has called Ohio St. United Methodist Church his home. 

“It really does become a family,” Humphrey said. 

But after hearing about Sunday’s church shooting in Texas it was hard to find the words.

“It's hard to understand that hate,” Humphrey said. “There’s really no security anywhere these days. No place that we really feel safe.”

The Bates County Sheriff’s Office wants to change that narrative for every congregation. 

“It's important for us to make sure that our community is prepared for anything that can happen like that,” Sheriff Chad Anderson said. “It's obvious that a small city is not immune from things like what's happened recently.”

For Pastor David Fitzmaurice, while speaking is a daily part of his job, right now, all he can do is listen. 

“I immediately thought, if it can happen there, it can happen in Butler, Missouri,” Fitzmaurice said. “We're a small community, very tight-knit, family oriented -- and I'm just glad the police department reached out to us.”

Fitzmaurice said there are certain safety measures already in place at the church. 

“We've already taken action before to protect our children with safe sanctuary, doing background checks with our people to make sure our children and vulnerable adults are taken care of, and then you look at this and you go, well what are we going to do now,” he said. 

Deputies with Bates County will be speaking with church leaders about their safety procedures and active shooter trainings, reassessing and evaluating their safety plans. 

“Just having more eyes in that area to look at what's going on and see if we can improve on that,” Anderson said. 

For Humphrey, while it’s hard to understand the hate, he refuses to live in fear. 

“We just have to hold onto that faith and trust because we know that this world can tear us apart,” Humphrey said. “We ought to try our best to love one another.”

Anderson said he expects there will be 100 percent church participation. They should begin sitting down with church leaders within the next few days.