PCSO stresses security awareness for local churches

PICKENS — In the wake of the recent deadly church shooting in Charleston, Pickens County Sheriff’s Office officials are reminding the public of an initiative launched in 2008 focused on providing safety and security awareness for local church.

Since 2008, the sheriff’s office has continued to provide the service to local clergy and their congregations in hopes that a proactive approach to the potential for crime and violence within sanctuaries will serve to deter an act of violence before it occurs.

There has been substantial growth in the communities throughout Pickens County since the beginning of the program, and numerous churches have experienced new membership as families have expanded and moved into the area, officials said.

“In light of the tragic event that resulted in the devastating loss of life in Charleston, I want to reassure our citizens that we listen daily for any information that may be indicative of a potential problem that may lead to violence specifically within our churches,” sheriff Rick Clark said. “We have continued to embrace the program, started under former sheriff David Stone, and will continue to educate all persons so that together we can identify and react to those that prey on innocent victims as they practice their faith.”

The program offered by the sheriff’s office goes far beyond the obvious concerns for church shootings, chief deputy Creed Hashe said. Deterrence of theft, vandalism, domestic altercations, child safety and site security are additional topics discussed during the session for church staff.

The sheriff’s office encourages anyone who would like more information about the program to contact Captain Gary Parsons at (864) 898-5503.