DETROIT (WWJ) – In a wake of last month’s horrifying fatal shooting of nine black worshippers at a South Carolina church, federal and local authorities are encouraging Detroit-area faith leaders improve security at their houses of worship.
Next week’s informational, interfaith summit will focus on developing and implement security programs and emergency action plans, deterring threats, sharing information and addressing risks — such as active shooter situations.
Hate crime trends and prosecutions will also be discussed.
“Places of worship often define themselves by being open and welcoming to all people, but we want to make sure that faith communities have the information they need to keep everyone who walks through their doors as safe as possible,” said Robert Poikey, Law Enforcement Coordinator for the U.S. Attorney’s Office, in a media release.
The event is being co-hosted the FBI, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, the U.S. Department of Justice’s Community Relations Service, the Detroit Police Department, the Wayne State University Police Department and the Anti-Defamation League.
U.S. Attorney Barbara McQuade, Homeland Security protective security advisor Al Shenouda, FBI Special Agent in Charge Paul Abbate, Dearborn Police Chief Ron Haddad and Detroit Police Commander Todd Bettison are all scheduled to speak.
Authorities believe the June 17 attack during Bible study at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston was motivated by racial hatred. In a federal indictment, 21-year-old Dylann Roof is charged with hate crimes, firearms violations and obstructing the practice of religion. According to a friend, Roof complained that “blacks were taking over the world” and that “someone needed to do something about it for the white race.”
The Detroit summit will take place on Monday, July 27, from noon to 4 p.m. at the Spencer M. Partrich Auditorium at Wayne State University Law School. Leaders from all faith-based communities are encouraged to attend.