Recently Cleveland Police Chief Buster Bingham was asked by the members of the Exchange Club of Cleveland to give them tips on how to keep people safe at church.
In 2016, the Mississippi Church Protection Act became law in response to the church massacre that occurred in Charleston, SC, and it allows churches to set up security teams.
Bingham said the security team should be made up of members of the church and the names should be on file “in case there is some type of incident that involves a church member.
"In 2016, there were 236 incidents of violence that took place at different churches (across the country)," said Bingham.
The incidents include everything from murder, carjacking, and armed robbery to actual suicides inside the church.
"So far this year in 2017, the stats I pulled up only went through to the month of June, and we've had 110 violent incidents in churches," he said.
Bingham said security could be useful, as he has seen first hand minor incidents at churches in Cleveland.
"A year ago after the Charleston, SC, shootings, Rep. Andy Gipson of the Mississippi Legislature decided that we need to have some type of protection for our churches when they want to have an armed typed security there."
Bingham said the Mississippi Church Protection Act includes an enhanced carry permit to allow a member to carry a weapon in church.
With the permit, Bingham recommended a security team member take an advanced training course on how to use a weapon.
"This training can be conducted by any law enforcement officer within the state of Mississippi or any certified outside agency that teaches this type of protection."
Bingham said extreme church incidents such as the Charleston massacre are not common but more incidents are occurring.
He said he wanted to encourage churches to develop safety measures.
"I've been contacted by many churches across the city of Cleveland, Bolivar County, Sunflower County and some churches in Greenville, and they've all asked me what they should do," said Bingham.
His response to all was to form a security team and organize it in a way the church will feel most comfortable.
"A church is supposed to have open arms and be welcoming to everyone no matter what background. You want to be an inviting church, you want to be a friendly church," said Bingham.