Article: 7/26/2016, Threat Considerations to Faith-Based Communities

Post date: Jan 5, 2017 4:27:39 AM

Threat Considerations to Faith-Based Communities

Garrett College, McHenry, Maryland, 7/26/2016

On July 26, 2016, the InfraGard Maryland Members Alliance (IMMA) co-hosted a full-day seminar at Garrett College with the Maryland Governor's Faith-Based Community Outreach Initiative Office and the FBI. The seminar addressed threats to faith institutions and active shooter incidents.

The seminar drew nearly 100 attendees from West Virginia, Pennsylvania and Maryland. Other agency partnering representatives included Marvella Gray from the FBI’s Community Outreach Program and Jennifer Gray from the Governor's office, who also emceed.

The audience consisted of stakeholders in the faith-based community, facilitators, leaders, directors of K-12 and higher education, retail and commercial facilities, and first responders. The speakers represented the FBI, Maryland State Police (MSP), Governor's Office of Homeland Security (GOHS), and the Maryland Emergency Management Agency (MEMA).

The possibility of hate crimes and terrorism make the threat of attack very realistic, and this seminar was the first outreach effort to help the stakeholders of the faith-based community identify threats and develop responses to address them.

The agenda focused on increasing the awareness to our faith-based community regarding physical threats of pre-incident, incident, and post- incident considerations to mass casualty events.

The seminar kicked off with an invocation followed by opening remarks from GOHS and Garrett County Sheriff’s Office. Steve Shepherd, FBI Special Agent and Behavioral Analysis Unit Assistant Coordinator, displayed examples active shooter planning, such as a death manifesto posted on Facebook prior to an attack.

Keith Runk, Lieutenant, Maryland State Police, examined a variety active shooter incidents. He also provided recommendations for bystanders, including a “Run, Hide, Fight” response. If unable to run or hide (the preferred options), bystanders were encouraged to fight back with weapons in their environment. Examples included throwing cans of food or chairs at the attacker.

Dr. Renee Murrell (Baltimore Field Office) addressed FBI resources for victims of active shooters and their families. Her presentation was emotionally moving. She recounted experiences working with victims and families from the Washington Navy Yard shooting, Boston Marathon bombing, and the attack on the Orlando nightclub.

IMMA received very positive feedback and successfully repeated the program several months later in Annapolis, MD.

Program participants include John Reginaldi, Reverend Medgar Reid, John Frank, Phil Lapp, Jennifer Gray, Marvella Gray, Gary Weinberg, and Robert Mueck.

Not pictured: Bruce Lohr and Shelly Menear.