SOUTH PORTLAND, Maine — Michael Mercer runs security operations for houses of worship around the state of Maine.
He’s a retired police officer and a member at Eastpoint Christian Church.
Mercer says companies like his get a lot of business because of recent attacks on religious places.
"Unfortunately, churches and schools tend to be softer targets because these are places where we go -- we expect to be peaceful and safe," Mercer says.
At Eastpoint, Mercer has a safety team that works in and outside the building.
He puts them through rigorous training, which includes advanced medic work.
"99% of the things that may occur in a church or synagogue or a mosque is going to be medically related. So people might have a heart attack or a diabetic situation. My team needs to be prepared to know lifesaving skills," Mercer said.
Eastpoint members say having a security team in place allows them to focus on worshiping stress-free.
"We have our police officers right at the door so you feel safe. They’re constantly scanning, and it’s just a good feeling to know that they’ve got your back," said church member Betty Reynolds.
Mercer says vigilance is key to staying safe. Be aware of your surroundings, and if you see something, say something.
"You know, greet people. Bad guys don’t like to be greeted. They just don’t. So I encourage everybody to welcome people. The greeters have a very huge role in safety when it comes to that," Mercer said.