Local faith leaders meet with Henrico police over security concerns

Posted at 7:22 PM, Jul 22, 2015
and last updated 2015-07-22 19:22:58-04

HENRICO, Va. -- The Henrico Police Department held their first Faith Community Coalition meeting on Tuesday night with faith leaders asking questions about security and how to deal with mental illness when it walks through their doors.

"What Henrico County police wanted to do was establish a long term relationship with our faith-based community," said Major Clarence Hunter with Henrico Police.

The meetings were actually planned months before the shootings in Charleston, South Carolina, but Hunter said the attack provoked more interest.

About 15 faith leaders attended Tuesday's session, but more are expected at future meetings.

Those meetings will be on July 23 at the Henrico County Training Center and on July 27 at the Henrico Theatre.

Meetings run from 6-8 p.m. on both nights.

Henrico Police said area captains should begin visiting area churches sometime in the fall to discuss ways to improve security on an individual basis.

"I think a lot of our church pastors are going to be attending," Rev. Greg Webber of Hatcher Baptist Church said.

Webber told CBS 6 that's pastors are curious about new security measures that could be taken as well as better ways to train staff regarding mental illness.

"We are not all trained, your congregation are not trained psychologists," Webber added.

Reverend Bob Brownell of St. Peter's Catholic Church said mental illness is something that must be addressed, particularly in the church community,  but that it is a delicate subject because churches must remain open to all.

"Father Bob," said he was once punched in the middle of communion by someone off their medication.

"He said that's not the blood of Christ and pow I went flying backwards--I missed the communion rail, thank God," Brownell recalled.