Why Your Place of Worship Needs a Church Security Plan
A “house of worship” is often thought to be a secure sanctuary, a haven to pray and meditate on the divinity of the world.
They are not, however, immune to criminality. Churches are exposed to a variety of threats, ranging from vandalism and petty theft to domestic violence. Houses of religion have also been easy targets for active shooters in recent years. Churches, mosques, and synagogues are structured to welcome all people without the need for an invitation. Still, that open-door philosophy also makes it very simple for someone who wants to hurt someone in some way to get access.
This article aims to give places of worship guidance on how to create security plans for churches in the face of dangers and crises that may arise during worship hours.
What is a Church Security Policy?
People want a peaceful atmosphere when they attend church. They won’t be able to completely participate in worship if they’re worried it won’t be a safe environment. Procedures are implemented as part of a church security strategy to ensure the degree of security parishioners demand while not interfering with the church service.
Your rules and procedures should take effect without causing any significant disturbance to your everyday operations. In silence, the security crew takes up position. Threats are dealt with swiftly and effectively by them.
The appearance that no security is in place is an indication of good security for churches. People come and leave without being bothered or feeling infringed upon when they’re seeking solace.
When a church decides to produce a safety and security manual, the head pastor, ministerial staff, important ministry leaders, and at least one security specialist will make up the planning team. Many religious organizations use a professional security agency to assist them in developing a security strategy prior to drafting a church security plan. The process includes:
- A walk-through of the church and its adjacent buildings is required before any gatherings by the pastor and the security expert.
- The pastor will discuss all concerns and requirements for a safe church atmosphere.
- They will also present a list of all prior security breaches.
The church representative will discuss the church’s aims and what they intend to accomplish during the planning sessions. From here, the security professional will offer a strategy based on data from the church, neighborhood, and city.
The Importance of a Church Security Plan
In the case of an emergency, having a detailed church security plan is the best approach to keep your personnel and flock safe. With a bit of forethought today, you can provide a safe place for your congregation to pray and practice their religion.
Having church safety and security plans in place that dictate how your organization will respond before, during, and after a crisis, whether it’s a natural disaster, active shooter, vandals, or another calamity, is vital to maintaining a safe, inviting setting for your congregation.
How to Develop a Church Security Plan
Due to concerns such as an increasing number of threats and acts of terrorism, church security is expanding across the world. To reduce the possibility of an assault, a church should have church security procedures in place as well as security training for employees and volunteers.
Furthermore, installing security measures for churches, such as a security team, armed guards, and security protocols, are all important components that church leaders should consider. Although it does not require the same level of security as a bank, significant physical protection is necessary to properly secure places of worship. Security specialists that can assist stakeholders in developing the optimal security strategy are needed for church safety and security.
1. Perform a risk analysis
The first step in developing a church security plan is to identify the threats that your congregation faces. This exercise is designed to help you uncover security weaknesses in your present security posture so you can develop rules and procedures that are tailored to your specific needs. You must optimize the efficacy of your security budget by selecting suitable equipment and services for your church, and this evaluation will assist you in doing so.
Consider hiring a security expert if you need assistance reviewing your church’s security environment. These highly qualified experts will assist you in assessing your risk and recommending cost-effective solutions.
2. Think about access control
Access control is the cornerstone of every security strategy, but houses of worship face a particular set of challenges. Of course, you want your churches, synagogues, and mosques to be friendly to both members of your faith and visitors. However, one of the reasons that bad actors seek to target churches in the first place is that they are simple to reach. Keep in mind:
- Access control systems can restrict access to private rooms, storage spaces, and other locations that aren’t open to the public.
- You can also use entry control to limit access to the facility to specified entries. You may, for example, restrict public access to just the main door, where the bulk of your security can be concentrated.
- Simple door locks to cutting-edge digital access control software with keycards are all examples of access control measures. Your security budget and the weaknesses you discovered in your risk assessment will determine the solutions you choose.
3. Consider Video Surveillance
Surveillance cameras are typically the most cost-effective approach to stopping thieves from attacking your church. It also helps maintain a record of occurrences that might benefit insurance claims or law enforcement investigations. You’ll need to figure out where you’ll set your cameras, which areas require the most monitoring, and how you’ll supervise the footage. The vulnerabilities you discovered throughout your risk assessment should guide these decisions. Because there is such a vast range of camera technology on the market, you’ll need to weigh the costs and advantages of various surveillance systems.
4. Determine if security personnel is required
While surveillance cameras are a strong and cost-effective security option, they do not provide the same level of response as a church security team. Additionally, the appearance of a security officer deters thieves and dangerous criminals. How many security guards to recruit, where to station them, and whether or not they should be armed should all be part of your security strategy. You’ll need to design strategic patrol schedules if you need mobile security to monitor the site.
5. Create an emergency response plan
Your emergency response plan should typically be a written document that includes directions for evacuating the facility and alternate gathering locations and who is accountable for completing the duties listed in the plan. It should also contain details on where to get emergency supplies and equipment, how to get in touch with the church’s personnel and people, and how to obtain backups of important church papers.
Every six months, evaluate and update your emergency action plan to ensure that it remains current with your organization’s changing demands.
6. Make a schedule for your training
If you’ve put in the time and effort to create a church protection strategy, you’ll want to ensure that your security officers and other employees know how to put it into action. You must incorporate training as part of your church’s security strategy, whether it’s teaching your security crew how to use and maintain surveillance equipment or practicing your emergency action plan. You may also try enlisting the help of your congregation in developing emergency training scenarios so that everyone is aware of the church’s protocols in the case of an emergency.
Does Your Church Need a Security Plan?
A church security plan is about more than just protecting the clergy and the tithe. Churches and their parishioners are increasingly under threat. It is critical for your ministry to have a strategy in place to deal with a situation.
If your church is located in Arizona, we can assist you in developing a strategy. To discuss your church’s on site security needs, contact Community Action Security today.