Church Security in Light of Latest Shooting
by Jeff Houdyshelt 8/05/2012 / Politics
The shooting at the Sikh Temple in Wisconsin will once again present the question of whether churches need their own security. It is a good debate to have as crimes against churches including shooting have increased tenfold in recent years. The issue is not if your church will be the victim of some sort of crime, but when.
Crimes against our nation's churches are grossly under reported for several reasons. We want to feel secure while we worship God, and that should be the case. However, there should be a quiet element at play during your services. One that goes unnoticed by the majority of church members.
Having a security ministry at your church need not be complex or financially expensive. Most churches have police officers or sheriff's deputies in their congregation. Whether retired or active, this is your security team. Most will volunteer their services to become a stabling influence in the safety of their church.
These church members are the only professionally trained to handle dire life threatening situations. Carry permit holders are just that permit holders. While some may consider them their unofficial security; it is improper and unfair to expect someone with 8 hours of training to respond properly to any type of criminal intruder. They are wonderful for self defense, but to require any more from them only opens your church and those members to criminal and civil liability.
In most cases your security program can be run with volunteers that commit themselves to a number of hours of monthly training. The team could and should incorporate your ushers and others that serve during services. These members will provide critical reinforcement in the event of an intruder or natural disaster.
The startup costs of this ministry should be minimal. Radio's, insurance, and licensing should amount to less than $1000.00. You could well exceed that depending on how complex you want to make your system, but the things I mentioned are necessary for any program. A formal policy should be drafted by potential members of your team and the pastoral staff. This policy should draw out the protocol for responding to every imaginable situation. If constructed properly, this policy should protect the church and security program from liability.
You can choose to ignore the situation, but when your church is made out to be a victim, you will face possible litigation from a lack of adequate protection. Churches like any other business are responsible for the safety and security of its' staff and members. So is a security program needed? Yes. Is it warranted? Absolutely.
This is a simplistic look at church security. If you undertake a security program consult professionals such as myself in gathering the proper information to make an informed decision. This article was not written to make you rush into a security program, but to make you aware of the need.
Feel free to contact me at: firstname.lastname@example.org if you would like me to take a look at your situation. I have over 16 years experience in law enforcement, and have been a part of teams protecting Presidents, Presidential candidates, and other Heads of State.