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LAS VEGAS (FOX5) -- Religious groups are finding common ground when it comes to security. 

"Government's not good at knowing where the need is but [religious leaders] are, they serve [the community] every day," said Kevin Smith, director of the Department of Homeland Security Center for Faith and Opportunity Initiatives. 

When there's a tragedy or disaster, Smith said, the majority of Americans turn to their religious leaders. On Thursday, religious leaders turned to Homeland Security and the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department. 

Smith talked about how critical it is to know basic first-aid and triage skills in case of an active shooter. He showed the religious leaders ways to get training and talked about the importance of having a close relationship with police officers. 

"Before I started working in the community, I didn't like police and I've told them I didn't like police because I've had too many negative experiences with them, Pastor Willie Ray Cherry said. "But once I had gotten engaged with them and started learning about them and they started learning from me, things have gotten much better." 

But police can't be everywhere. Some people think protection means armed security. 

"I don't think it's a bad thing,"Cherry said. 

"You want to open the arms but when you have the security it's not. It's going to keep people away from coming into your churches," Amar Chadha said. Chadha practices Sikhism.

"What is right for each congregation is really up to that congregation," Smith said. 

Smith said it's not always about guns, it's about reporting vandalism and hate crimes. 

So, are Las Vegas religious groups more of a target? 

"Whether or not we're more vulnerable or a target, it's more important on how do we come together and say, 'not in our community,'" Smith said. 

Places of worship and schools are considered soft targets. Smith said faith-based leaders should be aware of that. Metro will work with community members to point out vulnerabilities and tell religious groups how they can make their building safer. 

Copyright 2019 KVVU (KVVU Broadcasting Corporation). All rights reserved

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