Church releases new safety guidelines to help members in case of shootings, emergencies

Updated safety guidelines for leaders and members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints were released in a letter from the Presiding Bishopric on Oct. 10. 

The letter states that due to “changing conditions around the world,” the purpose of the new guidelines is to help leaders and members know how to increase safety at Church buildings. Leaders are invited to discuss the guidelines in stake and ward councils and educate members to address local concerns.

“We want to get resources into members’ hands — things they can do both at Church and in their daily lives to keep themselves and others safe,” said Eric Hawkins, Church spokesman.

Young women exit a Latter-day Saint meetinghouse. The updated safety guidelines released on Oct. 10, 2019, encourage members to avoid being alone in Church buildings, especially women and youth.
Young women exit a Latter-day Saint meetinghouse. The updated safety guidelines released on Oct. 10, 2019, encourage members to avoid being alone in Church buildings, especially women and youth. Credit: Intellectual Reserve, Inc.

There are two key messages for members in the guidelines, Hawkins said. First, if something seems out of the ordinary, doesn’t fit or doesn’t feel right, tell someone immediately. 

“Second, the number-one thing that can help someone if they find themselves in an active shooter situation is to follow the principles of ‘run, hide, fight.’ This approach is taught by law enforcement and security experts around the world,” he said.

Guidelines emphasize the importance of relying on local law enforcement during emergency situations, being aware of one’s surroundings and following promptings of the Holy Ghost. A section dedicated to responding to an armed intruder or active shooter is also included.

For situations involving an active shooter, members are encouraged to do one of the following:

Run

If a safe path is available, flee immediately to the safest exit.

  • Move quickly and quietly to a safe location away from the building.
  • Don’t draw the assailant’s attention.
  • Don’t return for personal items. 
  • Don’t carry any items that could be mistaken for a weapon by law enforcement.

Hide

If unable to escape safely, hide out of the assailant’s sight.

  • Close, lock and barricade doors to rooms where hiding.
  • Stay away from windows and keep low to the floor.
  • Turn off lights. Silence cell phones.
  • If exchange of gunfire occurs between law enforcement and assailant, stay in barricaded rooms until instructed by law enforcement.

Fight

If there is no time to run or hide, fight back against the assailant as a last resort. 

  • Use any available materials or tools as a weapon. 
  • Fight to stop the assailant. 
  • Organize with others for defense.

“We don’t anticipate something happening in one of our chapels. We pray that it doesn’t,” Hawkins said. “What we do see is members using these tools in their everyday lives outside of the Church — at shopping malls, movie theaters, grocery stores and other places. Even outside the Church, we want people to be safe. We want them to have these tools for any circumstance.”

Read more about the updated safety guidelines in the letter released to Church leaders.

A Church member speaks in a Latter-day Saint chapel. The updated safety guidelines released on Oct. 10, 2019, encourage members to always be aware of their surroundings.
A Church member speaks in a Latter-day Saint chapel. The updated safety guidelines released on Oct. 10, 2019, encourage members to always be aware of their surroundings. Credit: Intellectual Reserve, Inc.