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Newly baptized Indiana police officer teaches community to respond to active shooters 

Veteran police officer Ben Hallmark holds a training at Community Central Church in Evansville, Ind., on what to do in an active shooter situation. But he's quick to point out: “The only thing that’s truly going to save you is your belief in Jesus Christ, and I firmly believe that.”

EVANSVILLE, Ind. (BP) – Ben Hallmark wanted to prepare people for what would be one of the worst days of their lives – a day they find themselves in an active shooter situation. 

It’s also a day he hopes and prays they never experience.  

Last weekend, Hallmark, a veteran Southern Indiana police officer, taught a class at Community Central Church in Evansville, Ind., to train people to respond safely when they unexpectantly find themselves in a confined location with someone shooting at them and their loved ones. During the class, he focused on helping people have a plan for such a situation. 

But Hallmark clarified what should be at the top of that plan. 

“I don’t want people to think that just because I teach you this or that, it will necessarily save you from a bad situation,” Hallmark told the audience. “The only thing that’s truly going to save you is your belief in Jesus Christ, and I firmly believe that.” 

Hallmark’s conviction comes after his own decision to follow Christ just a few years ago. Growing up in a mostly irreligious home, his lone spiritual influence was his great-grandmother, who took him with her to the Catholic church. But, he says, church was always just an event for him. He never connected with Jesus in the process. 

But after a rocky first few years of marriage, Hallmark and his wife began looking for spiritual support for their relationship. Hallmark began listening to spiritually themed podcasts, particularly to one hosted by Phil Robertson of “Duck Dynasty” fame. He also started reading the Bible more frequently. 

“My wife was a spiritual person, but her faith wasn’t at the forefront of her life,” Hallmark said. “We both committed to living for Jesus and began searching for a church that felt right for us.” 

But church after church didn’t seem to fit. Eventually, Hallmark met Brian Turpin, an Evansville detective who was on the pastoral staff of a local Southern Baptist church. Although the two didn’t know each other previously, Hallmark knew of the detective’s sterling reputation inside and outside of the department.

“When I sat down for lunch with him, I was like, ‘This guy is something else. He is all about Jesus – all about Him,’” Hallmark said. “He’s genuine. And whenever he talks about his past experiences, he was very, very transparent with who he used to be and who he is now. And I felt like I could do the same with him. We built a very strong relationship.” 

Turpin has developed a long history of leading law enforcement officers to Christ and discipling them. Hallmark is one of 31 people Community Central has baptized since he became the pastor in February 2022. 

As the two talked about how he could serve at Community Central, Hallmark struggled to find a match. He couldn’t cook. He didn’t think he could effectively organize events at the church. But Hallmark had a unique background and skill set as a teacher that he believed he could put to good use. A part of the Evansville Police Department’s SWAT team, he had taught active shooter training before and thought it could be valuable for the church. 

In January 2023, a former Evansville Walmart employee injured one and was himself killed during a shooting incident at the chain retailer.  

“Our community was shaken by the Walmart shootings, and our community needed both comfort and training on how to respond to such situations,” Turpin said. “I believe that if there’s no Gospel component to our actions, we might as well do it in a room at Applebee’s. Ben was entirely on board with incorporating a spiritual aspect into the training. This turned out to be a win-win-win situation. It benefited the community, the kingdom, and helped Ben grow in his confidence and boldness in proclaiming his faith. It also emphasized his role in serving the church.” 

During the 90-minute class, Hallmark taught church and community members a run-hide-fight paradigm for dealing with an active shooter. If you can escape and no one else is in danger, do it. If not, look for ways to wall yourself and others away from the shooter. Then, if all else fails, be prepared to use whatever you have in hand to fight back. 

The veteran police officer also recommended everyone carry around lightweight first-aid supplies, so they are prepared to help people injured in a shooting before medical professionals arrive.

Hallmark says his faith in Christ has changed how he approaches his job as a police officer. For example, early in his career, he frequently ran from call to call without really focusing on the needs of the people he was serving. That has slowly changed since becoming a Christian. He now invests as much as possible in those he meets along the way each day.  

“As a police officer, I wear many different hats, and one of the most fulfilling roles for me is being able to offer support to individuals in need,” Hallmark said. “Whether it’s helping a colleague struggling at home or providing guidance to a family member with issues, we can come and offer factual data from the Bible and say, ‘Hey, this works. You should try it.’” 


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  • Tobin Perry