World conditions and safety for its members has prompted The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints to send an update to its security guidelines.
In a letter addressed Oct. 10, 2019, the church’s Presiding Bishopric states:
“Due to changing conditions around the world, an updated version of “Security Guidelines for Church Meetinghouses” is enclosed. These guidelines are meant to help educate leaders and members on how to increase safety at Church buildings and activities.”
Local leaders are being invited to discuss these updated measures with ward and stake councils and to use them to teach members, as needed, to address local concerns.
The updated guidelines direct Latter-day Saints to rely on local law enforcement in emergencies and suggest several practices members can implement to increase safety, according to a church press release.
“These include being aware of one’s surroundings, staying calm, extending friendship and respect to every visitor, not being alone in a church building and following the promptings of the Holy Ghost for guidance and safety.”
The guidelines also help leaders respond better in moments when a worship service is being disrupted by an individual or group.
The guidelines counsel how to respond to an active shooter or other active assailant. These instructions are taught by law enforcement and security industry experts as to what the most appropriate response in a given situation should be.
The church guidelines to leaders and members include instructions to run, hide or fight, depending on the circumstance:
Run. Flee immediately if a safe path is available. Move quickly to the safest exit and away from the building to a safe location. Exit quietly, without drawing the assailant’s attention. Adults are to ensure that all children are supervised and accounted for. Do not return to the building or to an office or classroom for personal items. Do not carry anything that could be mistaken for a weapon by responding law enforcement.
Hide. If you are unable to escape safely, hide out of sight of the assailant’s view. If possible, close, lock and barricade the doors to the classroom, office or other room where you are hiding. Turn out the lights, silence mobile phones, and keep low to the floor and away from windows. If there is an exchange of gunfire between law enforcement and the assailant, everyone in the building is to stay in their barricaded rooms until instructed otherwise by law enforcement.
Fight. As a last resort, if there is no time to run or hide, fight back against the assailant. Use anything available as a weapon, and fight to stop the assailant. If others are present, organize to defend yourselves.
The new guidelines follow in the footsteps of an updated policy directed to individuals that carry concealed weapons, which is they should not be brought to church meetings or be on church grounds.