Police urging local churches to heighten security following Texas attack

Polk Sheriff offering free active shooter training

LAKELAND, Fla. - Law enforcement officials are urging local churches to heighten its security following Sunday's deadly attack at a church in Sutherland Sprigs, Texas. 

"In the back of my mind it can happen anywhere now," said Eric Little, an associate pastor at Lakeland's Greater Bethel Baptist Church. 

Little called the massacre, that claimed 26 lives, a scary reminder that even churches are targets for violence. 

"It's shocking because I don't know where else we could be, and feel like we're totally secure if we can't be secure at church," said Little. 

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Polk County deputies recently conducted a security assessment at the church and leaders partnered with the Sheriff's Office for active shooter training. 

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"We have to take measures to try to keep our congregation safe."

They've installed security cameras in every building, lock the doors during services, and utilize volunteers to patrol the church as a safety team on Sundays. 

"Mainly eyes and ears and guys that can be alert to hopefully head off something before it happens," said Little. 

Sunday's attack meant reliving the pain and agony of another church shooting for Pastor Bill Boss. 

"September 18, 2011. It's a day that I'll never forget," said Boss. 

A gunman shot Boss as he knelt for prayer six years ago inside Greater Faith Christian Center Church. 

"The gunman came in and I got shot at point blank range in my head," said Boss. 

Sheriff Grady Judd is once again recommending citizens to legally arm themselves. 

"We are committed to keeping all of Polk County's citizens safe," the Sheriff said in a statement on Facebook. "We have subject matters experts who provide training to local businesses on how they can "run, hide, fight" in response to an active shooter, and how to make their businesses a hard target for an active shooter."

The Polk County Sheriff's Office is offering free active shooter prevention training. Anyone interested should call 863-298-6677, or email crimeprevention@polksheriff.org

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