3 Ways to Protect Your Church
It’s Sunday. You’re sitting in church. It’s a beautiful morning. The sun is shining through stained-glass windows. Birds are chirping. You smile at those around you. You turn toward the person behind you and something catches your eye. The door is flung open. Someone dressed in all-black rushes in, holding a gun. They shout profanities and pull the trigger, causing chaos, screaming, running. There was nothing you could do. You didn’t know how to protect yourself or others. It could’ve ended differently. It could’ve been prevented.
You say that sounds extreme, that wouldn’t happen here. You’re right, except it’s possible. Across the globe, there have been scenarios just like this. Some aren’t as bad. Some are worse. It’s unfortunately, reality. We must prepare.
Do you go to church and wish to prevent this? Here are 3 ways to protect your church to start with.
Form an organized team that can communicate, get things done, and be reliable. Start with the pastor of your church to get this going. Have a head of security, an assistant head of security, a shift leader, and team members to ensure all is covered. Establish a good relationship with everyone to make communication effective.
The top method of prevention is layers of security.
Know who is on the team. Police officers, those who served in the military, parishioners, and trained medical professionals who can be on a regulated rotation should be on the team. You should know where they will be and everyone’s strengths/weaknesses. Example: police officer in parking lot car, security officers stationed at strategic places, and on-duty individuals patrolling.
Mental, physical, and spiritual fitness is important.
2) MATERIAL PREP
Stock essential emergency supplies like medical kits and materials. First Aid kits, gauze, bandages, and a heart jumper are imperative. You will want medical supplies because a medical emergency is the most common, although you should be prepared for the worst (like a shooter) so you know how to act in those emergency threats.
Install security cameras. Ensure you have valuable parts of your church with cameras and those items bolted down (for example, the Tabernacle in a Catholic church).
You will want face shields, radios, earpieces, and heavy-duty tactical belts for security individuals. Don’t carry too many things, only what is necessary for security.
It might sound repetitive, but train, train, train. The more experienced you are, the more your training will become second nature. You should complete semi-annual training at a minimum and make quarterly your goal. Cover general safety, scenarios, and CPR certification. Medical emergencies are the most common emergency you will deal with. Practice training on suspicious people, medical, domestic situations, and attacks (like active shooters, rioters, burglaries, vandalism, etc.). In an interview, security expert and Iraq/Afghanistan veteran Joey Olivo recommends Brazilian jiu-jitsu, claiming it is the best out there. He recommends protecting the door at all costs and thinking practically and tactically.
3 Ways to Protect Your Church – Final Thoughts
Active shooter scenarios in churches are not far from reality. They are not a joke and a serious threat. Remember, 3 ways to protect your church are having a team, material preparation, and training. That starting point will guide you in the right direction. As a person of faith, you should know the best way to ask for help – prayer. That is the basis for every religion.
Are you going to step up? Imagine feeling relieved knowing your church has security guards and cameras. You’ll prevent a shooting. Stop rioters. Inspire other parishes to step up.
Unsure of where to start? Contact APS. We do security and risk consulting. We are your first step.