Pa. Attorney General Josh Shapiro calls town hall on place of worship security

Attorney General Josh Shapiro hosed a town hall event with Philadelphia-region religious, law enforcement and government leaders. Topics of discussion included securing places of worship, minimizing hate speech and increasing coordination between law enforcement and religious groups.

"No one is immune. Everyone is touched by these horrors. We all have to work together to address it," said Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro who organized the town hall. The room was filled with faith leaders looking for ways to make their places of worship safer. Tahir Wyatt spoke about concerns in a mosque where they serve people five times a day every day through prayer.

"That prayer constitutes one putting his or her head on the floor which means that you're very vulnerable. Very vulnerable to an attack," said Wyatt with United Muslim Masjid.

He's one of many religious leaders who the town hall in the northeast. It was organized in response to the deadly shooting at Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh five weeks ago. But also with other tragedies in mind like at Emmanuel A.M.E. in Charleston South Carolina.

"This conversation is critical for us because it requires that we build these kinds of partnerships," said Reverend Jay Broadnax of Mount Pisgah A.M.E.

A panel of local, state and federal law enforcement talked about how they address threats and resources available. A big part of the conversation is and has been whether to have armed security and if so how to have it.

"I would hate to think that the only solution is to have armed guards," said Reverend Charles Quann of Bethlehem Baptist Church in Spring House Pennsylvania. Other leaders say they had no choice but to move in that direction.

"It's a horribly painful discussion. We've made the decision to bring an armed guard who stands outside our synagogue door. We've locked all of our doors short of the one where an armed guard stands. This was pre-Pittsburgh. I never would have imagined doing," said Jacques Lurie with Congregations of Shaare Shamayim.

Reverend Mark Tyler of Mother Bethel A.M.E. says he hopes the information here tonight gets out. He suggested the Attorney General share it through a website.

"A.M.E. pastors have been calling me asking can I refer them to security experts. This room is full of good information. Just the idea of having a hemorrhage kit. Who even thinks of that?" he said.