LAKE CHARLES, LA (KPLC) - After a shooting at Emanuel African Methodist Church in Charleston, South Carolina left nine people are dead and a gunman jailed, local law enforcement officials said they are prepared if a similar situation were to happen in Lake Charles.
LCPD Chief Don Dixon said every member of the local police force participates in training sessions each year to learn how to combat an active shooter.
"The entire department takes place in a training exercise whether it be the mall or a school where we actually go out and rehearse this live with aerosol pistols. We have role players play the role of bad guys and so I think we're very prepared," Dixon said.
Local pastors like Shane Kastler said this incident is a lesson.
"It's just a reminder of how much evil there is in the world. I mean when you think about it none of us obviously expect something like this to happen but I think we need to be prepared for it. We need to face reality and realize that there are evil people in the world and obviously as churches we don't go looking for evil but at the same time we want to be prepared when it comes," he said.
Kastler and other leaders at Heritage Baptist Church have a plan in place to keep members safe.
"We have some security measures in place. We have some police officers who also attend our church and serve as security and they are equipped to deal with it if necessary," he said.
Kastler said it's important for churches to be just as prepared as businesses. That's why they have cameras here at Heritage to monitor the church from several angles.
"We need to be wise. We don't need to bury our heads in the sand and pretend like evil doesn't exist," he said. "We need to be innocent but at the same time we need to be prepared for whatever comes our way."
Kendrick Holiday is the pastor at Safe Haven Bible Church. He said he hopes this incident doesn't strip away the acceptance typically found in the church.
"I think we have to be on guard but not so much so that we start turning people away based upon stereotypes. We can't get caught up in stereotyping people because Jesus Christ still accepted everybody and we have to do that as well," he said.
Holiday said churches should partner with local law enforcement to educate members on how to spot potential dangers.