Faith leaders take part in 'Worship Watch' program

- Faith leaders from several backgrounds met with their local police department on Monday to prepare for the unthinkable.

It’s all part of a program called “Worship Watch” aimed for preparing all houses of worship for emergency situations including active violence.

Many churches have had basic security measures in place for years, but Monday’s cultural and political climate have forced faith leaders to take further steps.

A house of worship is a safe haven, but a diverse crowd of faith leaders in Manassas learned how to make theirs more secure.

The Prince William Police department and representatives from several local churches, mosques watched active shooter videos to learn about the Worship Watch program.

It’s an ongoing effort to allow faith based organizations to have an open line of communication with local law enforcement and a plan for both natural disasters and active violence.

“What is happening in the world around you, everywhere you see, not just the U.S. but everywhere else is just crazy. And every life is important no matter what color, culture religion you are,” said Kahkashan Ansari, of Muslim Association of Virginia.

Local chaplain Gary Councell says there have been several times where he’s worried about the safety of both his staff and churchgoers and training like this is needed.

“i just made a list as she was talking and i came up with 11 different incidents that has occurred over the years,” explained Gary.

Faith leaders are learning life saving techniques like proper lighting, escape routes and are even urged to create “safety teams” within their congregations.

Most area police departments do offer a service to come out to inspect and advise how to make your institution or business safer.

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