Dothan churches gradually increasing security in light of mass shootings

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DOTHAN, Ala. (WTVY) - Since 2012, at least 66 people have been killed in houses of worship shootings, according to the Associated Press.

That’s led to increased security measures by churches - including those here in the Wiregrass.

November 5th, 2017 - a day members of the First Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs, Texas won't be forgetting anytime soon.

A shooter killed 26 people.

After seeing that, Doug Mann at First Baptist Church in Dothan decided it was time to up security.

"The Texas shooting actually happened, the guy was outside the front, so we actually have somebody outside in the front of the church,” said Mann.

That isn't the only change Mann and the security team put in place since the Texas shooting.

They lock all but one door now during services.

"The congregation has adapted to it very well. I haven't heard any complaints,” said Mann. “It took a little while getting used to."

First Baptist has a security committee that keeps an eye out for security developments being made around the country.

St. Columba Catholic Church has a similar committee that went to a security conference.

A member of St. Columba's committee said they started locking all nine entrances shortly after mass begins, and use radios and computer screens to monitor who comes and goes.

Ridgecrest has a patrol unit that walks throughout the church to look for any strange activity.

Safety has become a key concern for Doug Mann, and it's not an issue he ever plans on taking lightly.

"That gives the people peace of mind,” said Mann. “They know that there are people watching out so they can come in and worship."

A Houston County sheriff's deputy said they patrol about a half a dozen churches during services on Wednesday nights.

Dothan Police works those churches on the weekends.

The Southern Baptist Convention has provided a list of resources for establishing church safety on its website.

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