Review: Threat Assessment Training

Yesterday, Tuesday, August 23, 2022, I and some of our staff from Cedar Hill Baptist Church attended the ‘Prevention of Targeted Violence for Houses of Worship’ hosted by Representative Scott Perry in Harrisburg.

This training was led by the United States Secret Service Threat Assessment division. It was attended by about 400 people. I thought I would pass along my thoughts.

About 30 minutes into the training I felt I was wasting my time and by the end of the morning training I was concerned. The emphasis was on identifying potential threats within our congregations and within our communities. Here are my concerns:

  1. Every example that the instructor used was an outside attacker – never one from within the congregations membership or attendees.
  2. The emphasis was really on alerting local law enforcement to suspicious persons. I think they just wanted to have clergy turn in church members who had radical opinions.
  3. Whether or not anyone of us in that room are qualified to make these assessments was pushed aside.
  4. I believe that it is vital that we take caution in securing our facility and our congregations – but that was not discussed in this meeting.
  5. This training seemed to leave the door open to potential over-stepping. Things deemed normal 50 years ago are today radical and such will be the case years from now as well.
  6. Never – not one time – was the idea of Clergy confidentiality ever mentioned.

Just some of my thoughts. I did not see anyone else from our fellowship there – so I thought I would pass my review along. Let’s say I “took one for the team”.

-Pastor Wes Gunther

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