Church Security Part ll: Your Place of Worship has a Security Team, Now What?

Last month I discussed some of the reasons why your church should consider having a security team. You can read that article here. In the time since that article was written, there have been several more news stories about churches that have been impacted by violence. One such story happened at The House of Refuge Church in Kansas City on May 21, where a greeter was wounded by gunfire during a church service. The shooter entered the church and fired multiple times, striking the greeter in the head. The greeter then fell through a window into the sanctuary. He was treated at a hospital for what, thankfully, have been described as non-life-threatening injuries.

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Risk Assessment

Individuals who are criminally oriented will pick a “soft target” when possible. They will go for a location that is easy versus a challenging one. Obviously they don’t want to meet resistance, so they’ll size up the target ahead of time. The church security team’s job is to make their church a “hard target,” meaning one that makes criminals less likely to pick that church.

Is your church a “soft” or “hard” target?

As church members, we are to exercise good stewardship, which in this context means assessing strong and weak spots in regard to liability, safety and security. Here are some key points you’ll want to take note of when conducting a church risk assessment:

  • Are all windows and doors in good condition, and able to be securely locked?
  • Are exterior doors made of solid material that prevents easy penetration? Do those doors have hinges on the inside so that the door cannot be removed easily?
  • Is there a schedule for when the doors are locked during and after services?
  • Does the church have sufficient lighting around the perimeter of the church, as well as the parking lot, to deter criminal activity?
  • Is there an alarm system? How is it monitored?
  • Are there security cameras throughout the church, and are they monitored during services?
  • Do the nursery/preschool/children’s areas have a restricted entry point?
  • Is there a two-way radio or other communication device available for workers in the children’s area?
  • Is the church equipped with smoke detectors, a sprinkler system, fire extinguishers, first-aid kits, and any other emergency items?
  • Are valuable items and cash offerings kept in a locked area or safe?

 

These are just some of the points to consider when conducting a risk assessment. Also, make sure to have a written emergency plan in place, as well as a security-team safety plan with policies and procedures.

church-security

Stacy researching insurance companies.

Insurance and Liability

Planning ahead also means looking at how the church will be affected legally should an event such as the one in Kansas City occur. Typical general liability insurance policies include limits that are adequate to cover normal operations, but may not be adequate for traumatic incidents.

Even though the church is trying to protect its congregation by creating a security team, this can actually raise its liability. The church’s insurance provider should be able to answer these questions:

  • Will team members be covered individually for lawsuits caused by a security incident?
  • Does the church insurance cover an armed security team?
  • What special coverages do you need to adequately cover your security team?
  • Does the term “Security Team” vs. “Safety Team” affect the amount of liability to the church?
church-security

Liability & Risk — Does your church have insurance?

Being Prepared

The safety and security of the church is a group effort. Include various church ministries such as the ushers, greeters, Sunday School leaders, and children’s leaders to maximize the effort. Having in place a well-prepared plan, established and supported by staff and the congregation, is the main key to effective church security.

Jim McGuffey, who is an independent security consultant and has written various articles and resources for church security, recommends setting up the P.R.I.D.E. concept as the basic strategy of a security team:

  • P. Prevention: Preplanning for emergencies, closing gaps in your security, spending funds for safety equipment.
  • R. Recognition: By proper training and developing an alert and suspicious mindset, you can recognize and be prepared to deal with intrusions and emergencies.
  • I. Interdiction: Utilizing proper strategies to allow security personnel and equipment to intervene and insulate your congregation from disruptions (violent or otherwise).
  • D. Disruption: By using the above techniques, you may be able to disrupt, interrupt and/or forestall an attack on your church.
  • E. Emergency response: Even after implementation of the above, there will be situations that you have not planned for, or situations where you will need trained emergency personnel. There is no such thing as a perfect defense, and an “emergency response team” should be trained and ready to provide the best response possible.

Multiple shots fired at House of Refuge church (kspr.com photo)

Security

Unfortunately, we live in a society where evil exists. We can’t completely stop bad things from happening, but we can design a plan to help reduce the severity of a tragic event, as well as a church’s level of liability should one occur.

“Pay careful attention to yourselves and to all the flock, in which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to care for the church of God, which he obtained with his own blood. I know that after my departure fierce wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock; and from among your own selves will arise men speaking twisted things, to draw away the disciples after them.” Acts 20: 28–30

  • About Stacy Bright

    Stacy Bright contributes to the “Armed and In Charge” column, sponsored by LaserMax, Inc. She grew up in Eastern Colorado in a family of outdoorsmen. Firearms were an everyday part of her life -- from hunting to personal and home defense. Stacy holds instructor certifications from the NRA in Pistol & Rifle, as well as being an Range Safety Officer and Refuse to be a Victim instructor. In addition to her NRA credentials, she also is a Missouri CCW instructor and teaches various other home and personal defense courses. She co-hosts a radio show, "The Gun Show." “In a field dominated by men, I feel I bring a unique perspective to firearms and training, especially to women. I'm passionate about educating, empowering and developing confidence in those I train. In November of 2014, I started the Southwest Missouri chapter of The Well Armed Woman,” said Stacy. Stacy lives in southwest Missouri, and has been married for 20 years. Visit TWAW Facebook page: The Well Armed Woman-Springfield, MO Chapter.

     

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