Minnesota Company Helping Churches Ramp Up Security

By John Lauritsen

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – A Minnesota company has been following what happened in Charleston very closely.

Archway Defense specializes in faith-based security training at churches and other places of worship.

“Our church is a lot more than just a church to us,” said D.J. Schilling. “Our family is there, our friends are there.”

Schilling is a member of a Twin Cities church that also has a school attached to it. His family goes to church every Sunday and his kids attend the school, which is why he and other parishioners are considering working with Archway.

“If something were to happen,” Schilling said, “to try and look in the eye the next Sunday at another parishioner or friend who lost a spouse similar to what happened in South Carolina — to say, ‘I could have done something but I didn’t’ — I couldn’t live with myself.”

That’s where Peter Johnson comes in. He’s a former U.S. air marshal who returned to Minnesota last year to start Archway. He saw a chance to help churches gain some peace of mind when it comes to security.

“We do everything from safety, security, all the way up to what we call active threat or active shooter, which we saw in South Carolina,” Johnson said. “Think about it, everybody is sitting in pews looking forward. They don’t see what’s coming from behind them.”

Johnson’s company has been training Twin Cities churches, and they also teach CPR. He sees more and more churches adding security, much like schools did after Columbine.

“I would love to see for the first time that we stop it before it becomes a huge issue like it has in schools,” Johnson said.

Johnson is talking about pre-assault indicators.

Archway teaches churches ways they can detect odd behavior by a parishioner, or even someone who has been visiting the church.

Archway also trains churches how to act in cases of medical emergencies, fire emergencies and flood emergencies.