The Oconee County Sheriff's Office says spots are still open for its ongoing church safety meetings and its Citizens Police Academy, which will be held in September.
Although the county hasn't seen many problems at area churches, Sgt. Mike McGowan said he feels preparation is the best way to deal with future problems.
"We used to say that certain things that happened in other places can't happen here," said McGowan, who provides information and meets with local area churches to coordinate church safety meetings.
"However, society has changed and churches need to understand the importance of being prepared before an event could happen. We are not trying to create panic but we are partnering with our area churches to keep everyone safe so they can enjoy their worship experience," McGowan said.
The church safety meetings are set up to make people aware of issues that could arise, from how to protect church property to preventing break-ins and thefts to answering questions regarding the rights of concealed weapon permit holders to carry firearms in churches, according to the sheriff's office.
McGowan is also heavily involved with the sheriff's office first Citizens Police Academy, a program that gives citizens a chance to learn about the law enforcement system.
The classes, which are limited to 25 participants and will run for 10 weeks on Tuesdays, will cover topics such as patrol operations, equipment and its uses, criminal investigations, SWAT team operations plus a judicial overview by one of the local judges and information on detention and narcotics.
Citizens of Oconee County can sign up for classes and learn more about the program at www.oconeelaw.com and by clicking the Citizens Police Academy link. Participants must be 21 years of age or older.
To schedule a church safety meeting, contact Sgt. Mike McGowan at 864-638-2017.
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