‘God is our security’: Local churches look at security following New Zealand mass shooting

In the wake of the most recent mass shooting that killed at least 50 people at two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand, local religious organizations are keeping an eye on how they maintain security at their gatherings.

Mustafa Cuce, a union member of the mosque board at the Turkish-American Religious Foundation, said while they are new to the community they’ve had a good relationship so far with everyone they’ve come into contact with.

As far as security goes, “We have no security but God,” he said, adding he trusts that between their community interactions and their faith they will continue to have safe services.

Betty Ann Levin, CEO of the United Jewish Federation of Tidewater said, “security is always first and foremost in our minds.”

The federation takes a look at recent events in the media and sees them as reinforcement for the need for constant communication between the congregations, she said.

She also noted the federation has an open communication line with local police and has always taken the stance of “what are the needs of the community” when deciding on new security measures.

Security and training

Both the Norfolk Police Department and the Virginia Beach Police Department have security information sessions and training they offer local businesses and organizations.

Virginia Beach Police has a Religious Institutions Security Program that’s led by their community engagement unit.

The RISP offers a free training and assessment of security for the worship teams.

Norfolk Police offers a similar training.

If any community members would like to request NPD’s services on security and training, they should fill out the department’s online community engagement request applications form here.

Contact the VBPD’s community engagement unit to schedule an RISP training or any of their other community training opportunities.

Guns in places of religious worship

A bill hoping to make carrying a “dangerous weapon” into a place of religious worship legally has failed to pass the Virginia House of delegates.

According to Virginia’s legislative information system, a dangerous weapon is considered a gun, pistol, Bowie knife, dagger, etc.

Senate Bill 1024 would have repealed a law that prohibited the carrying of dangerous weapons into places of worship.

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