Even one year later, the fatal shooting at the First Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs in Colorado after gunman David Patrick Kelley opened fire on the congregation reminds us of the fragility of life. It also brings back a painful reminder of how important church security is for the spiritual, as well as the physical need for the safety of families and children. After all, it would be difficult for the church leadership to convince others that they are concerned about their everlasting security if their physical security is ignored.
Church Security is more important than ever with incidents of attacks on churches on the rise and unless steps are taken for the protection of the congregation are taken, they won’t cease. We at DMAC Security believe that these steps will have to be such that they do not interfere with the church’s ability to remain accepting and open to those who believe and visit. There is nothing that stops the church from adopting a security mindset, and it is mostly denial that holds it back from taking up a safety program.
A large part of it is that most churches have no idea where to begin when it comes to security. It could also be the cost factor that makes them think twice or shrug it off. But the truth is that implementing a safety and security protocol for the church need not be costly or complicated, and we at DMAC Security, a security company that is highly recommended by our clients regardless of their field, know this. Let us consider how this can be put to practice:
1) Keep Law Enforcement in the Loop
It is very important for the church to keep the local law enforcement in the loop and keep good relations with them. A strong working relationship between the two is crucial for a number of reasons. First and foremost, it familiarizes the police officers with your church security which will be very handy in case of an emergency. This can also be achieved through mock drills. This exercise will also allow church officials to get to know the local law enforcement which will help in case of threats in the form of a visible deterrent.
Also, training with law enforcement officers over matters such as sexual assault, online bullying and domestic violence can be beneficial for the church officials in the long run.
2) Take Church Security Seriously
Church officials can no longer be indifferent to security or threats, given the current scenario that nothing is immune to attacks. According to a study published by the Center for Homicide Research, there were a total of 139 shootings on church property between 1980 and 2005. Not surprisingly, churches such as the Calvary Chapel Melbourne or the New Life Church have opted for armed security to create a safer environment for churchgoers.
While it may not be necessary for all churches to adopt this strategy, we at DMAC security believe that churches do present easy targets for wrongdoers. A simple solution to this would be that the smaller churches urge their volunteers to undergo some form of training, in partnership with the local law enforcement so that they are more aware of their surroundings, and this is our third point.
3) Trained Volunteers Are Careful Volunteers
We at DMAC Security believe that a very important deterrent to potential attackers when it comes to the protection of a congregation is visible security. We believe that instead of having security guards or trained volunteers hidden among the churchgoers, it is important that they be visible to act both as a reassurance and warning. Just the presence of a uniformed guard can act as a deterrent in potentially dangerous situations. Besides, there is a good chance that your church member may already have an experience in security and/or they are a member of law enforcement, and making use of that fact would be a smart thing.
4) Risk Assessment
Conduct an annual risk assessment of the church. This operation will help you identify any risks that are associated with your daily tasks and vulnerabilities that can be exploited. It would be better if you involve the rest of the church staff such as your pastoral director or senior volunteers conduct their own assessments and later tally that with your own. This procedure will ensure that more than one point of view are approached and nothing is overlooked.
While you are doing the assessment, it is also a good idea to have all the job descriptions and volunteers’ names in place and re-look any policies and procedures. Reassessing will also help you realize your current deficiencies and weaknesses.
5) Screen Volunteers
Volunteers can form a strong backbone to your church security, but we at DMAC Security believe that prior to serving, the church should require those who want to volunteer to undergo a criminal background check. Failing to do so may expose you to a greater civil liability or even criminal negligence. DMAC Security advises you that in order to do a proper background check, the church should never rely on web-based companies that promise instant results and usually bypass court records. Good investigative firms, such as DMAC Security always verify court records and the candidate’s identity.
6) No “Broken Windows”
The “broken windows theory” in criminology says that any visible signs of the civil disorder, signs of crime or antisocial behavior can lead to an encouragement of further crime. Mostly, it sends out the message that if broken windows are “OK”, then other signs of vandalism also might be acceptable. If you have visible signs of neglect on your church property, you are sending all signs of wrong messages to your community. The appearance and upkeep of the property must be maintained to create the perception of care within those walls. This simple act of paying attention to your property is likely to deter and thwart would-be criminals.
7) Install Monitoring Equipment
DMAC Security believes that all church properties should be properly equipped with monitoring systems that can notify fire, medial or law enforcement agencies in case of an emergency. Areas where people congregate, parking lots, children’s areas and offices should also be covered with cameras and surveillance equipment. And these are not unthinkable options because there are a lot of cost-effective options on the market these days. Most of these options are easy to install and do not need specialists and can be accessed using smartphones.
8) Secure the Equipment
To prevent theft and unauthorized access, all media and electronic devices owned by the church should be secured. This may include sound and lighting equipment, projectors, cameras, computers, office supplies or television monitors because these are the most commonly stolen items in case of burglaries or internal theft. While you are securing your expensive equipment, you should also keep and maintain a record for insurance claims and losses. You should always keep a record of estimated values, brand names and makes and models of media devices and expensive equipment.
Furthermore, you may want to label all church equipment or mark them discreetly. These simple steps may help in the identification and recovery of church-owned property in case of a theft.
9) Have an In-House Security Team
Your congregation should have selected members who have undergone some training and can rise to the occasion in a time of crisis. This “team” should have a set of guidelines and should operator under a designated church security officer. Also, these members should be thoroughly screened before inclusion in the team. Also, keep in mind that your congregation may already have serving or retired personnel who can be of great help in forming such teams because of their prior training and experience.
10) Be Prepared
It is automatically assumed that a church is a haven for whoever enters it, and this belief has been around since time immemorial. But that also puts tremendous responsibility on the church security team. And for this very purpose, you should ensure that all your fire equipment is up-to-date, you have basic first-aid kits and evacuation routes planned out in case of an emergency. You should also involve your congregation in evacuation and emergency plans to be prepared for any eventuality.
What are you Doing for Church Security?
The recent acts of violence against places of worship has once again made it essential to think about church security and safety. You would have realized by now that relying on fasting or praying alone would not be adequate for the safety of a church or its congregation. Fasting and praying are important, but you should also consider the some of tips that we put together for you, for the safety of your visitors. Following these simple tips will ensure that the safety and security of your church has increased.
In conclusion, you should take a step back and review the security measures that you have taken to ensure the safety of your congregation. Give DMAC Security a call for consultation and our executives will get back to you with a quote that works for you.