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Personal tragedy motivates security expert to teach pastors safety in church

Personal tragedy motivates security expert to teach pastors safety in church
Posted at 8:07 PM, Mar 20, 2019
and last updated 2019-03-20 20:07:38-04

NORTH PORT, Fla. — Jim Howard still remembers the day in 1970 that changed his life forever.

"When I was sixteen years old, my father shot and killed a deacon in the parking lot of the church we were going to," Howard said.

Now, as executive director of Trinity Security, he's making it his personal mission to teach pastors and other church members how to keep their congregations safe from threats such as an active shooter.

Dozens of clergy and members of churches listened to Howard's advice on church safety Wednesday. The free all-day session was held at the Morgan Family Community Center in North Port.

One of the main topics was on how to identify people who come to a church and pose a potential threat.

"There are certain characteristics they're going to show," Howard said. "They're going to come in and be distraught."

Howard said that while he supports arming church members and clergy, he doesn't teach people to engage an active shooter.

"We don't teach how to fight," he said. "We feel that if you can barricade yourself in a room, you have a much better chance of surviving than getting out and running around."

Kyle Cannon, pastor of Peace Christian Fellowship in North Port, said he found the class valuable, and feels obligated to learn how to help protect his parishioners.

"It's about taking care and being vigilant, being smart and being safe," he said.

The class was sponsored by the North Port Police Department.