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home : bishop : columns

3/8/2018 9:00:00 AM
GO AND MAKE DISCIPLES
Preparedness arms us against fear
For more information, go to www.spotlightnews.com/news/2018/02/20/run-hide-fight-albany-county-sheriff-offers-training-for-active-shooter-situation/ and www.hudsonvalley360.com/article/twin-county-churches-prep-active-shooters. To book an active shooter response training session, contact the Albany County Sheriff's Office at 518-487-5400 or ContactSheriff@AlbanyCounty.com.
BY BISHOP EDWARD B. SCHARFENBERGER


In the wake of the Parkland, Fla., school shootings and other violent incidents, there is, understandably, no absence of passion and rage. Nor should a community, even a nation, in the face of such brutality, withhold its compassion for innocent victims or its outrage against those responsible.

But none of this is likely to stop the next incident.

Not every pundit will resist the temptation to blame and condemn, sermonize or demagogue on the possible causes and culprits in the wake of such a tragedy. Yet, however justifiable, no such outcry - on any side of the debate - will necessarily prevent another one.

Experience teaches that the notoriety afforded potential perpetrators seems only to embolden them. Moreover, as sales records indicate, citizens are even more likely to arm themselves -- literally -- after such terrible attacks.

Meanwhile, schools, churches and other organizations, so solicitous of ensuring safe environments, wonder who might be next and what they can reasonably do, while sheer emotion and various agenda are driving their own narratives.

It is worthwhile to consider that there are actions to be taken beyond mere outrage or the frustration that often attends the tortuous sociopolitical process.

No one agrees on who first said, "The price of liberty is eternal vigilance." But who can disagree that preparedness in the face of peril is a far sounder strategy than just praying and waiting to be rescued?

Arming oneself proactively with knowledge -- proven evasive and defensive maneuvers that actually work -- is a more practicable remedy in the short term, even as we hope for a consensus on public policies that will take time to be developed, let alone proven to be effective.

Prayer and hope are not enough. We must act now. That is exactly what we are doing in Albany, I am proud to say. Our own Diocese has been taking the lead in preparing our schools and parishes on how to respond in crises involving active assailants, as we have been witnessing around the nation.

Rather than spell out all we are doing and how you can help those in your charge, I refer you to two recent articles (below) that will inform you of the wonderful work our local law enforcement officials have been doing in cooperation with us and other community leaders.

In a seminar I personally attended at St. Ambrose Church in Latham last December, Albany Country Sheriff Craig Apple told some 300 attendees that, "knowing what to do -- how to get out of a building safely and what weapons are available to use -- could save your life."

The worst thing to do is just to stand there frozen instead of heading quickly to the nearest exit -- always a good thing to have scouted out in case of any emergency.

If you cannot escape the danger area, then the next best move is to find a place to hide, quietly securing ingress by lock or blockade as necessary, turning lights out and silencing phones. Hiding under a bench or a desk? Bad choice. They would be the first places the attacker would be searching!

If flight is not possible, then prepare to fight. Sheriff Apple explained how many objects could be employed to obstruct the advance of an aggressor. If you want to learn more, view the links below, or better yet, contact the sheriff's office to arrange to host a seminar.

Run, hide, fight! Those are the key actions to pursue, and in that order. If, God forbid, any violent attacker is in your vicinity, knowing and following these basic rules could save your life.

If there is an escape path, attempt to evacuate. Evacuate whether others agree to it or not. Leave your belongings behind. Help others escape if possible. Prevent others from entering the area. Call 911 when you are safe.

I wanted to dedicate my column to this important topic because I know that it is on our minds. What I needed you to know is what we are actually doing around our Diocese and what you yourself can do now.

I would certainly encourage anyone to share their reasoned reflections with church, school and other public officials. We do not have to wait for others to act. We can start with ourselves. Being informed and prepared is the best way to arm against fear, frustration -- even violence itself -- in the face of the unknown and to keep our environment safe.

(Follow the Bishop at www.facebook.com/AlbanyBishopEd and on Twitter @AlbBishopEd.)



Reader Comments

Posted: Sunday, March 11, 2018
Article comment by: Susan Sample

I have stopped going to mass on Easter and Christmas because I am actually afraid of what could happen in church. However, I do attend mass at other times of the year in different parishes where I know there are off-duty officers who carry in plain clothes.

It's nice to see that the diocese is at least doing something, but it won't be as safe as it could be in churches or schools until there is CCW inside, like legally armed citizens or officers in plain clothes. Uniform is not good because the person in uniform would be the first target to eliminate of a determined criminal or terrorist.





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