Active-shooter training offered to churches, leadership

HARRINGTON — Harrington Police Chief Norman Barlow hopes safety is on the minds of area church members after hearing of numerous shootings in churches across the globe last year.

Although no such shootings have been reported in the nearby areas, he said it’s better to be safe than sorry.

“I don’t want to make people scared. I don’t want people to be deterred from going to church and worshiping the good Lord. But we pick up a newspaper or find out about it on the news and sometimes we think it’s not going to happen to us, but it can. There’s not a person in this world that doesn’t have a story of some kind,” he said.

To help prepare local churches and their leadership teams, the Harrington Police Department is hosting an active-shooter training seminar Saturday, Jan. 13 from 9–1 p.m. at Harrington Baptist Church. The training will be led by veteran Kevin Outten of Delaware Grappling.

Training is free to pastors, their clerks and volunteers in leadership roles.

It will include an informational session, along with a question and answer period and interactive training.

“It’s very interactive. There are live scenarios, although I can’t say which one we’ll choose. But all the scenarios are really true. It’s to see how they would reach if it’s their own church,” Chief Barlow said.

The goal? To create safer environments for locals to enjoy religious freedoms in the nearby area, he explained.

“We want to help make the churches safe so they can go worship the good Lord and hopefully not ever have to worry about an active shooter. And if they do, they’ll have some sort of mechanics in place to deal with that situation,” he added.

Chief Barlow attended a similar seminar last year hosted by Harrington Baptist Church and said it was well attended, but he wanted to offer a second seminar in case others couldn’t attend the first.

“I watched the presentation and thought man, this is pretty good. I thought, ‘We’ve got churches from Milford, Dover and Maryland here. Why don’t we partner with the churches in Harrington and bring this to Harrington and do something positive,’” Chief Barlow said.

Churches can use the training as one step of the process toward proactively preparing their congregation for an emergency.

Although buildings must have emergency exits and other safety measures in place, he explained that organizations should also consider building security and safety teams or other measures to prepare for disasters.

“They only have to do a little bit. It’s not a lot of money to do this stuff. They just do this with the people they’ve got. It’s preventative maintenance. Take [the training] back and implement things they can do back at their church,” he added.

“Have a game plan. Have different plays. It takes time to build it up. They could get evaluations of their buildings to assess access doors, the pattern people come in, where they park, how many people attend. . . These are the things we hope they grab ahold of and go with it.”

The training offers such tools to help local organizations see the brainstorming process through and create safe spaces for their members.

“I think training is very important. I think that complancency gets us in trouble. I think it’s 2018 now, 7/8 days into the year and last year was filled with a lot of active shooter scenarios. I hope 2018 doesn’t have any,” Chief Barlow said.

“Bring questions, bring whatever you have to ask. This is their time to ask whatever they’ve got and get advice. You’re not going to get this type of training and this type of advice for free elsewhere.”

For more information, contact the Harrington Police Department at 302-398-4493.

Jennifer Antonik can be reached at

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