East Texas churches beefing up security - KLTV.com - Tyler, Longview, Jacksonville |ETX News

East Texas churches beefing up security

By Sara Story - bio | email
Posted by Ellen Krafve - bio | email

TYLER, TX (KLTV) - Of the five fires reported in East Texas this month, three have been labeled as arson. The news has set off an alarm among other churches, taking extra measures to beef up their security.

Grace Community Church has several locations, and their church in Athens was one of three there hit by an arsonist.

The senior pastor of Grace, Doug Clark, says they do have alarm systems in place at all of their locations, but they have hired off-duty police officers who are on patrol to watch the sites over night.

"I wrote a friend on Facebook and I said, 'You always hear about this kind of stuff at other people's churches,'" said Clark.

But, this time, it was his church.

"That incident, we did think it was more localized," he said.

Just this past weekend, two churches in Tyler went up in flames. Sounding off another alarm for area churches to increase security. Grace hired security guards.

"Hopefully, that will help us distract anyone from wanting to be in our building," said Clark.

"We have fully digital security systems here with cameras, motion detectors, alarms [and] electronic locks," explained Ken Warren, a Senior Associate Pastor for Green Acres Baptist Church.

Warren says even they are aware of the threat. In addition to alarms, they make sure there is always someone on location to watch for anything suspicious.

"My understanding is that most of these fires have taken place when there was no one in the facility," said Warren.

For churches who can not afford round-the-clock security or state-of-the-art alarms, Warren says presence is key.

"You don't have to have somebody armed," said Warren. "They don't have to be security guards; just somebody there with eyes and ears to be alert."

And, that is what many rural churches have done, having congregation members rotating through the night and posting signs alerting criminals of watchful eyes.

"It's just unfortunate that something like this has to happen in East Texas where you think sometimes you are exempt from this thing," said Warren.

"Ultimately, it's saying that God's in charge of it," said Clark.

Several alarm system companies say that since the start of the fires, there has been an increase in churches that are interested in alarm systems.

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