Texas Sheriff’s Department Adds Churches to Sunday Patrols
In light of recent attacks on houses of worship, the Potter County Sheriff’s Office has added local churches to its Sunday patrols.
- By Jessica Davis
- June 11, 2019
In light of recent attacks on houses of worship, Sheriff Brian Thomas of the Potter County Sheriff’s Office has added local churches to his team’s Sunday patrols. The goal is to help keep churches and other faith-based institutions safe.
"Majority of the community is at a church on Sunday morning, majority of Amarillo is at church on Sunday morning," Deputy Danielle Garth said.
Garth said going to churches helps add a layer of security and safety for worshippers, but also helps her get to know the community better.
"This is where community is and our communities love to see us out here," Garth said. "They feel safe, they feel protected by us when we are out here. They tell us that all the time and it’s good to hear, it makes you feel like you are doing your job and it just makes you happy that you are making a difference."
Thomas said the ride-bys are mostly a deterrent against those who would target houses of worship.
"We are just trying to be the sheep dogs over the flock and make sure the wolves don’t get in," Thomas said.
Thomas said he personally reached out to pastors and other church leaders to let them know about the police patrols. He said he’s received a positive response so far.
"We got all excited about it because it gives us an extra shield of protection. It’s also a deterrent," said Alan Burkhalter, senior pastor at Chaparral Hills Baptist Church. "We appreciate the Sheriff because what he’s doing is giving us peace before the fact."
Many Potter County churches have security and safety teams already in place, but the Sheriff’s Department patrols serve as an extra layer.
"Their presence and them being out here just means the world to the church," said Jeff Ponder, senior pastor at the Church at Bushland. "It gave a lot of confidence to our security team, and a lot of confidence to our people."
Garth said that working together with the churches gives her and her coworkers the ability to build relationships while they serve as a secure presence. If anything were to happen, they’d know where to go and who to speak with.
Jessica Davis is the Associate Content Editor for 1105 Media.