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Local church, sheriff's department work together to develop safety plan

The lead pastor at Life Church in Saginaw County reached out to the Saginaw County Sheriff's Department about a safety plan for his members. (Photo credit: Jesse J Gonzales)

Local churches have taken big steps to keep their members safe, following the recent mass shooting at First Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs.

One church in particular, Life Church, is working with local law enforcement to increase security during its services.

"You think you're going to a safe place like church, but terrible things can happen anywhere," one church member said.

The lead pastor, Jonathan Herron, said his congregation expressed concern following the tragedy in Texas, so he took action.

"I started getting messages on my Facebook from people here at Life Church saying, 'Does the church have a plan?'" Herron said.

He said he then reached out to the Saginaw County Sheriff's Department and developed a more in-depth plan.

"We're working with a lot of churches with training, but recently we did have one church in Saginaw County that asked to hire us... hire a deputy on duty, full uniform, with a car to be at their church services," Saginaw County Sheriff William Federspiel said.

Herron said just having their presence makes him feel better as both a parent and a pastor.

"It makes me feel good when I bring my children to church on Sunday that they see a smiling sheriff's deputy there to welcome them," he said.

He said this change has encouraged more people to walk through their doors.

"Church is a light in the darkness and partnering with the Saginaw County Sheriff's Department is just another way that we're able to shine that light brighter, so people feel welcomed into a place full of hope and without fear," Herron added.

Sheriff Federspiel said the department is working on holding active shooter situation training for churches in the area later in December.

The sheriff said his deputies are also making a point to make their presence known in church parking lots on Sundays.

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