Taking some precautionary steps today can make your church a safer and more secure place for staff and members. It’s important to create a security plan that allows the church to stay vigilant yet maintain the open and welcoming feeling a congregation expects.
Create a church security team; include members who have military, police and medical backgrounds. They can be advisors, or the emergency action response team in charge of training ushers, parking lot attendants and volunteers in the event of an emergency.
Perform a risk assessment of the church; invite a professional security company to help with the assessment. They know the right questions to ask. In recent years, attacks against churches have gone up in number along with the level of violence. Dangers like theft, assault, killings, child abduction and arson have tragically occurred in our local churches. One contributing factor to these crimes may be due to a perceived lack of security. Churches are thought of as soft targets.
Gone are the days of leaving church doors open for the wandering soul to find refuge. Crime is a painful reality for the church community today. Church leaders are either improving or developing safety and security strategies for their churches.
Establish procedures and strategies based on the security needs discovered during the assessment. Establish notification and lockdown procedures in the event there is a fire, active shooter or other incident. The plan should include where people should go, what they should do and then communicate the plan to the congregation. Train staff and volunteers how to respond appropriately when an incident occurs.
Have a Sunday school sign in and checkout system in place. This can be a sticker-based tracking system or a software attendance program.
A monitored security system has the ability to dispatch law enforcement, fire department and medical services quickly. (Remember your trained team will have a procedure to follow.)
Video surveillance in office areas, sanctuary, nursery and church school rooms, gathering places, entrances, and parking areas enhances security. Just the presence of video cameras can deter someone with malice intent from striking. In addition, video surveillance can protect against false accusations especially concerning interactions with children.
Control access to buildings by installing key pads at access points and a video intercom at the office building entrance. Create a single entrance into the church on Sundays or during large gatherings. Make sure ushers or greeters are at all doors before and during service and large gatherings.
Hire off-duty police officers, their presence alone can be a deterrent.
In conclusion, as a church leader today, security must be a priority. We have seen some very troubling and fatal reasons why churches should not leave their doors open to the public unattended. As we said earlier, gone are the days of churches leaving their doors open all the time.
Whether you’re looking to assess risks and identify vulnerabilities, or revisit and review policies and procedures, One Source Security can help you.
Reduce security risks by being proactive. One Source Security would be happy to provide a FREE security audit of your church, call us today at 800-570-6478 to set up your appointment. We can help you create a security solution that meets your needs today with the ability to upgrade as your church expands.