HOUSTON, Texas — As details are released about the security measures taken during Sunday’s shooting at Lakewood Church, what could the incident mean for the megachurch, and could parishioners see more metal detectors at places of worship in the future?
Thom Bolsch, who is a former secret service agent, explained that the answer isn’t so black and white as Lakewood Church typically sees tens of thousands of people who come in and out every single weekend. The building used to be home to the Houston Rockets, making security a massive undertaking for the more than 600,000-square-foot venue.
“It’s very hard to protect that many people. The first thing you have to realize is: What is the security there for? Is the security really there to protect all 40,000 people who come into the building? Or is it there for the pastor and to protect him, his family, and the people up on the stage?” Bolsch asked.
Bolsch said religious organizations often consider using metal detectors. But what deters some of them is the cost of the equipment and the personnel to operate them, especially for a place the size of Lakewood Church.
“There’s a lot of egress and ingress routes in and out. You have to secure all of them. It’s not as simple as just putting up a metal detector and screening people coming in. How many doors do you have to secure to make sure that people can’t get into a back door with maybe a weapon?” Bolsch questioned.
The other dilemma, Bolsch explained, is being a gun-free zone can sometimes make those places more vulnerable to attacks.
“Some people look for those places. They’re soft targets, right? A lot of these things happen in gun-free zones because the bad people know that no one’s allowed to have guns in here,” he said.
In some circumstances, smaller congregations may rely on their own parishioners to provide volunteer security through concealed carrying during services. However, Bolsch encourages anyone who does this to make sure that they have the right training before agreeing to do so.
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