By Tracey Leong

BALTIMORE (WJZ)– It has been nearly one month since a gunman opened fire inside a Texas church, killing more than two dozen people. Now places of worship across the country are preparing for the worst.

The “Church Watch” program involves church leaders and law enforcement who work together to create a plan in case disaster strikes.

Security is a top priority for churches following one of the deadliest mass shootings in Texas history, where a gunman killed 26 parishioners inside a church last month.

“We want to come and serve the lord and not have to worry about who is in the church who is going to harm us,” said Rev. Alice Hutchins with the John Wesley United Methodist Church in Queen Anne’s County. “Been blessed it hasn’t happened to this church but it can happen and we are so happy to have the community watch.”

“We’ve got to take the initiative and be aware and we have to create programs to better educate our community as well as better strengthen our churches and increase the relationships they have with law enforcement,” said Queen Anne’s County Sheriff Gary Hofmann. “People know these events are out there, they know these things go on, but reassuring them your church is prepared and reassuring them you have a partnership with law enforcement.”

Sheriff Hofmann encourages other agencies to create a plan as well so they’ll be prepared in the event of an attack or shooting.

Contact Sheriff Hofmann for materials at 410-758-0770 ext 1218 and ask for Mrs. Stephanie Jarrell.

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