Church Safety Being Trained in the Basin
Nick Lawton
NewsWest 9

PERMIAN BASIN - An entire church seminar on safety was held in Midland last week, drawing on tragedies such as the gunning down of seven people back in 1999 at Wedgwood Baptist Church in Fort Worth, TX.

Another danger that poses a threat are sex offenders who try to get close to the youth of the church.

Local law enforcement told NewsWest 9, 230 people have been killed on church property nationwide since 1999.

Now some officers in the Basin are taking the steps they know to combat criminals like gunmen and sex offenders to their congregations.

"They're going to go to where the risk is lowest, and where is that at? Where we're the most trusting, and that's going to be at our churches, so that's where we have to come back in and put all of these steps into place," Odessa Police Cpl., Jerry Jones, said.

Jones said it can all start by forming an eyes-and-ears safety team in the church, people trained to see if something's not right about a potential hire for a church.

Jones works with a team at Crestview Baptist Church in Midland.

There's a lot of concern about sex offenders, especially after the July arrest of Edward Livingston.

Livingston was arrested in Midland after not registering as a sex offender in California.

He also allegedly volunteered with youth at a Midland church, but calls to Midland Police, the Midland Sheriff's office and the Midland U.S. Marshals office couldn't uncover which one.

First Baptist Church in Midland incorporates a safety team as well as background checks for all staff members and volunteers.

"We still need to know that they are on the up-and-up legally, and that they qualify to work with our children on Sundays and any other days that we have activities for them," Children's Minister, Sarah Arrambide, said.

Officials with the church also told NewsWest 9 that soon they'll be putting up security cameras.

Police said those essential background checks could be all it takes to make sure everyone working together in a congregation stays safe.

"Not only checking all of our volunteers but also our staff," Jones said. "Doing the interviews with them, doing background checks. When you start having red flags come up, then you just start paying more attention."

Jones stresses that these teams in church are not security teams. They are safety teams.

Under the Texas Penal Code, it's illegal to carry a concealed handgun on church property if there is a 30.06 sign on the church property forbidding concealed handguns.

But for the price of $100 a year, a church can train their safety team how to spot criminal activity by using the online service at