Nearly 160 people have pre-registered for church safety and security training on Jan. 16 at the Venice Community Center. The event is free but space is limited.
The pre-registration is one of the largest he’s seen, said trainer Jim Howard, who founded Trinity Security Allies in 2015. He will lead the seminar.
Howard wasn’t drawn to this calling. He was pulled in.
“How I got here is a story we’ll go into. I was the victim of a domestic violence incident. My father shot and killed a deacon of a church when I was 16,” Howard said.
By 21 years of age, Howard was a police officer.
As a Christian, it wasn’t until he moved to Florida that he noticed a man come into his church who shouldn’t have been there. The man was with his daughter. Howard recognized the person. It was a violation of a court order to meet with her unsupervised.
“I found out that week he had murdered his landlord … and he was in my church,” Howard said.
He began focusing on combat profiling to identify danger, and providing that safety training to houses of worship, faith-based schools and nonprofits who couldn’t afford the high cost of a security consulting firm.
“We had been doing this. We just didn’t have a name for it back then, but it’s based on Marine Corp training,” he said.
With 29 years of experience under his belt, Howard’s wife finally said, you either have to remain a police officer, or do the training. So he opened up his own business.
“With domestic violence and attacks against the church on the rise, this is a must-attend training to better prepare your church,” Howard said.
Those with bad intentions are “easy to spot, but you have to have some training,” he said. “There are three types of people who come to church. Those who are hurting and one step away (from personal disaster) … we should be ministering to them. There are the faithful. And there are wolves in sheep’s clothing. You should be a able to spot a wolf before they ever get into your church.”
The Venice Police Department is sponsoring the seminar on Wednesday, Jan. 16, from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the Venice Community Center for all interested churches.
An outreach coordinator with VPD suggested Howard and top brass interviewed him before inviting Howard to lecture.
“We continually look for ways to improve or provide a better service, said Police Chief Tom Mattmuller. “VPD is connected to our faith based community, and we recognize the need to plan and train for any type of threat or hazard.”
Howard is currently an auxiliary police officer with the Port Richey Police Department and is also an adjunct instructor for St. Pete College.
The training is for pastors, staff, ushers, greeters, children’s ministry, safety team, medical and all other volunteers in the church.
Attendees will discuss how to prepare safety teams and help others to identify warning signs along with potential threats, and steps to take to handle situations that will better protect the church and those inside.
The training is free. There will be a small break for lunch. To register, call TSA at 727-267-0590 or visit TrinitySecuritiesAllies.com.