Sumiton police chief training local churches for crisis situations

By LEA RIZZO, Daily Mountain Eagle
Posted 12/5/17

SUMITON — Over the last few years, Sumiton Police Chief T.J. Burnett has been working with local churches to aid in firearms training and developing security plans.

Last Saturday, Burnett took one group to the Sumiton shooting range, which belongs to the city, to help them become more proficient in handling firearms and responding to crisis situations.

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Sumiton police chief training local churches for crisis situations

Posted

SUMITON — Over the last few years, Sumiton Police Chief T.J. Burnett has been working with local churches to aid in firearms training and developing security plans.

Last Saturday, Burnett took one group to the Sumiton shooting range, which belongs to the city, to help them become more proficient in handling firearms and responding to crisis situations.

When churches contact Burnett with an interest in having an armed guard, he will take church members to the shooting range in Sumiton, which belongs to the city, and starts out by seeing what their current firearms abilities are. From there, Burnett, who is an NRA firearms instructor, teaches them other firearms tactics.

He added that some churches don’t want to be armed and then he starts incorporating the ALICE (Alert, Lockdown, Inform, Counter, Evacuate) training inside the churches. According to the ALICE website, these “classes provide preparation and a plan for individuals and organizations on how to proactively handle the threat of an aggressive intruder or active shooter event.” Among other things, the training includes how to use available objects as weapons and making sure to lock doors.

“If they decide they want a security team and to utilize firearms, I teach those guys on the range,” Burnett added. “If they want me to come into the church and teach the whole congregation ALICE, then I do that, which is what most churches want to do once they find out about it.”

Burnett initially started holding this training for churches when members approached him after the Charleston church shooting in 2015.

After the most recent church shooting in Texas last month - the worst in a U.S. house of worship in modern history, with 26 killed and 20 injured — he said he began receiving even more calls about this kind of training.

“I started out with one church and then through word of mouth, it’s just kind of spread around,” he said. Now, “I’m having more churches to ask about it.”

Churches interested in contacting Burnett about firearms or ALICE training can call the Sumiton Police Department at 205-648-3261. “The plan isn’t to change the way you worship, it’s just to watch what’s going on and be alert,” he concluded.