Church incident spurs town police to increase patrols, plan training

by Geoff Fox

An incident at a local church has led Hancock Police to increase patrols and coordinate with all church officials to boost safety.

Hancock Police Chief Rick Cook said there was recently an issue at one of the churches in the Hancock area where a member of the congregation showed up and pushed the preacher out of the way and got verbally combative.

Cook said the subject was on medication but wasn’t taking the medication and had access to over 20 guns.

The following weekend, Cook and deputies from Washington County Sheriff’s Department showed up at the church just in case.

Cook said security efforts, like prohibiting large backpacks, closed containers and other items, are being recommended to local churches.

“I don’t know if it was just an isolated incident or if it’s an incident that could actually he could build on and go on,” Cook said.

The chief said Pennsylvania State Police were also contacted as the subject lives in Pennsylvania.

He said there haven’t been any incidents with the subject with Pennsylvania State Police, but “we are keeping a good close eye on the churches every weekend.”

Since the incident, more patrol checks being done and police are more visible around local churches during services.

Cook declined to provide any details about the church or subject involved except to say there are no charges pending against the person.

Cook has proposed coordinating security training for representatives from local churches so they can monitor their own locations.

He said he wanted to get the information out about what happened because of the safety issue.

“If an individual doesn’t like one church, or something like that, churches are always open to anybody to come in,” he said. “What’s it to say that if he doesn’t get one church to listen to him, he might get another church to listen to him. I don’t want that to transpire.”

The Hancock police department is coordinating the efforts for training a security detail for churches, including members from each congregation and potentially some former police officers.

“I think it’ll work out if we can get some good people on to the security operation forces that are in the churches,” he said.