Memphis churches, St. Jude, training in Texas to respond to shooters

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SUTHERLAND SPRINGS, Texas — Memphis churches and hospitals traveled to  Texas for training Tuesday on how to respond to active shooters as they look to step up security in the wake of Sunday’s deadly church attack and other mass shootings.

They joined about 1,000 law enforcement officers in San Marcos, Texas for the annual ALERRT conference — that’s Advanced Law Enforcement Rapid Response Training.

This year it was already supposed to be a timely discussion with the mass shootings in Vegas and last year’s Orlando night club shooting —  but now a new tragedy right down the road underscored the need for a good plan to handle these types of events.

“As a church, it further stresses for us to be on alert,” said pastor Derrick Anderson of Southaven’s Brown Baptist Church, who was taking notes.

He’s also a Shelby County reserve deputy — and is already planning his church’s response to a potential shooting.

“We train our parking lot, our ushers, our greeters, our security all together, so they can know — our goal is to head off something on the outside.”

But churches aren’t the only ones who have to worry.

Former Memphis Police director Toney Armstrong brought a staff of people from his current job at St. Jude.

“To find that now you have to take security measures even in a place of worship, so certainly if a place of worship is not off limits, a hospital is not,” he said.

Unlike a church, St. Jude is a 24/7 operation — and that means a whole set of new challenges.

“You have an extensive staff that works multiple hours, so it’s challenging to make sure that you’re  putting things in place to train all of your personnel.”

But train them they will — and they’re not waiting until the next tragedy.

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