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smince
February 11, 2006, 09:46 AM
I've read the posts on "carrying in church", but this is a different thread. I'm currently writing a safety policy for my church on how to respond to natural disasters, fire, medical emergencies, and violent confrontations that may occur on the church grounds. We currently have volunteers who patrol during services, but several feel a need to expand this program.

I recently attended a conference on Church Security put on by the Alabama State Board of Missions. I feel that due to the fact that there is a course on this subject, there is a need. The conference covered physical security of the church and congregation, child protection, and financial security(robbery and embezzlement). Although the current church burnings are south of my location, we've experienced robberies, vandalism, and breaking and entering in our local area. And national news stories have covered shootings, armed robberies and other crimes involving the church.

I would like to hear from TFL members whose church may have a dedicated security program(armed or unarmed), or who are/have been involved in such activities. Any realistic suggestions will be appreciated.

Thanks

Scott

Mannlicher
February 11, 2006, 10:07 AM
In light of the rash of Baptist church arsons in Alabama. Black and white congregations have lost their buildings.
Funny that the police can't seem to find the perps though. Hate to say it, but if it were a single mosque that was torched, then the full weight and investigative power of the US Government would be at work now.
Well, that aside, I would think that rural Baptist churches would by now, have gotten organized with sort of an 'neighborhood' watch' around each of them.

smince
February 11, 2006, 01:08 PM
I would think that rural Baptist churches would by now, have gotten organized with sort of an 'neighborhood' watch' around each of them.

We do, in fact, have a watch program in effect, along with the patrols during service. I'm working on procedures to use if something happens during a service. I was working on this in December when we had 9 cars broken into during a Wednesday night service. It took something like this to open members eyes that something could happen.

BobK
February 11, 2006, 06:24 PM
A church should not only be concerned about security when occupied but also when unoccupied. People dont realize that some churches are more secure than the businesses where they work. Keeping unwanted people out of the church at anytime is important. There should also be secure areas inside the church when it is open. Churches can also be the hardest to secure because everyone has a key. Access control is the answer. Push button locks, card readers or proximity cards are becoming the norm in churches today. With the right setup, you can dictate who has access to any area at any given time. And you can have an audit trail to tell when any one person has accessed a given point. Some churches have gone to alarms and video surveillance in addition to high security locks and registered key systems. Controlling access and keeping bad guys out is only a small part of the security plan. But it is also a very important one.

smince
February 11, 2006, 07:28 PM
BobK;

Thanks for the response. We do have a monitored security and fire system installed. We are very rural, even though big for the area(300+), and the Sheriff/Fire Dept. has a sometime long response time. We are in the process of building a new facility, and are already planning to incorporate some of your ideas during construction.

We have no LEO's that attend our services. I have a limited experience in Security from my time in the USAF, but that was a few years ago. I'm the best we've got right now, and I'm finding I have a lot to learn and re-learn.

stevelyn
February 12, 2006, 06:15 AM
You mention a long response time by the Sheriff/Fire Dept. Considering the incorporation of a sprinkler system in the plans for the new facility might not be a bad idea.
The trend is catching on out in bush Alaska and has been credited with saving life and property.

VaultDweller
February 12, 2006, 09:54 AM
An evacuation plan in case of a fire or something during services is very important. I don't know how big your congregation is but you need to figure out a way to get all them out of the building quickly and safely without causing a stampede. Study the layout of the church and work out a system, such as one row at a time, to keep the evacuation orderly, make sure the pastors and ushers are familiar with the plans since they would be the natural choice to lead such an evacuation.

The church is important but the people in it are far more important, their safety must be your first priority.

shooter_john
February 12, 2006, 08:23 PM
The recent church burnings are indeed a tragedy, and I am proud that I have been able to participate in the search for the people doing these acts and disgusted that we haven't got them yet, but there just isn't a lot to go on as far as evidence and so on. On average, there is only 2-3 LEO's working IN THE ENTIRE COUNTY where most of the arsons are occurring, and that doesn't help either. That is why it is important for concerned civilians to watch out for their churches and property. I think it is great that there are groups starting to do this, and I know that my church does have a volunteer security "service", but I don't know much about it. I'm sure the staff would be more than happy to share their information with you though. The church is Westwood Baptist in Alabaster, AL and I believe the website is www.wwbc.org.
A lot of manpower is being utilized in the hunt for these heartless punks, please pray for us and the congregations that have lost their temple so that together we can hopefully catch these perps.

KSPlowboy
February 14, 2006, 10:44 AM
We have a security protocol at our church. We have to because of our location. Just last wednesday we had a violent confrontation with someone who had been criminaly trespassed from the property. While it is not normal for that here it is not uncommon either. We have several LEO's and a "security team" that monitor the building during service as well as monitored fire and security when the building is empty. Members of the "sercurity team" are armed, as well as the LEOs. One of our Pastor's is also one of the LEOs. He could give you specifics as to protocol if you like. Send me an e-mail if you are interested.

bpalmer@calvarytempleindy.org

atlctyslkr
March 16, 2006, 12:38 PM
It would be nice if states would pass laws allowing people to carry in church. Churches are on the "restricted" list here as in most states. We have an exception for carrying on school grounds here. If you have permission from the school it's okay to have a concealed firearm. If I go to my mom's school I can carry. The campus police officers know me and know that I carry and never say jack. There're undermanned anyway and would probably welcome the backup! As school administrator could scribble on a post-it-note "Please allow Mr. X to carry a firearm on these grounds ...." Why not grant church leaders the same power?

rmagill
March 16, 2006, 05:31 PM
As school administrator could scribble on a post-it-note "Please allow Mr. X to carry a firearm on these grounds ...." Why not grant church leaders the same power?

I am not sure which states, but I do know that some states allow for legal CC inside the church as long as the church approves it. In Pa, it is already legal to CC in church. Where one can carry is dependant upon the individual state laws.

Don H
March 17, 2006, 12:21 PM
In Utah, carry in church is legal unless the church itself prohibits carry.

smince
August 27, 2006, 06:14 AM
I'm resurrectiong this thread because of some very good Church Security info I've recently came across:

Forum dedicated to church security:
http://osministry.com/forum/index.php?showforum=32

Warrior Talk has a forum for the Christian Warrior with some very good church security info:
http://www.warriortalk.com/

Some other interesting links I've found:
http://www.christianemergencynetwork.org/
http://www.churchbusiness.com/
http://www.churchsecurityservices.com/
http://www.guideone.com/center.htm
http://www.gatekeepersalliance.org/
http://www.ministrycontinuitysolutions.com/

This one is geared for Jewish brothers, but can be adapted for any church:
http://www.adl.org/security/new_guide/

http://www.brotherhoodmutual.com/NAV-pages/navart31.shtml
http://saviorprotection.com/Home.htm

tshadow6
August 27, 2006, 09:00 AM
The Catholic Churches hire off duty police officers to direct traffic. You may look into that option. One armed police officer still has access to the whole department via his radio.

sparkysteve
August 27, 2006, 10:04 AM
In Michigan, carrying in places of worship is illegal. But our church has been looking into a better security plan. There's been alot of church break-ins lately.

guntotin_fool
August 28, 2006, 01:15 AM
Our church has several LEO's and Retired LEO's as members. Added to that are maybe 20 CCW that I know of. we use ushers who are responsible for seating late comers, handing out bulletins, etc as well as taking the offering. We have quietly added to the ranks of the long time ushers with some of out LEO experience staff as well as those who carry. we try to have more than two for every service. It is not discussed out of church board meetings, But I think some have realized it. We also have a CCw as church secretary who is there pretty much anytime the building is open except for the weekend. Our Day care is monitored with cams and we have only one door and it is a buzzered entrance within the vestibule, so you can not get in unless you are recognised.

Inside the church are several alarm pads from the security Company. All ushers and church officals know the panic codes. we changed them about once a month or so to prevent some silly kids from thinking its fun to call the cops or FD during church or something. But we have had two medical emergency issues in the past 9 months were the panic buttons probably saved a life, The other went home, but he was past 85 and in poor health,
In both cases, we had cops as first responders at the door in less than 5 minutes probably a lot less. FD and ambulance were there in about 5 but that is as fast as they can get there due to distances. (they share the same house.) Our pastor also carries a panic button in his pocket as he can see very often what the Ushers can not. He has never had to use it, but it on the same bundle as his wireless mic so he has it when ever church is in session.

Our collection plates are handle by two people all the time. We have a service that picks up the money from a night drop box and although the loss of money would be dissapointing, one weeks collections are really not that big of a deal, we get a lot our money now Direct deposited to the bank, People like that, it adds some security and anonymity to it as well.

Our two biggest concerns are embezzlement and personal safety from someone trying to strong arm robbery or assault. Our church is not huge but about 450 members, we are in a prosperous area and we take in a fair amount of money. We hired a bank exec a few years ago who had experience in theft by swindle and embezzlement and instigated several components of a security plan to prevent such things, CHEAPEST 500 dollars we ever spent. If you do not want to hire someone, talk to your bank as they may offer this as a service, we wanted someone from outside our operation to look at all phases and this person was highly recommended. Although we of course do not suspect anyone at this point, that is what a good embezzler looks for and with a couple of churches we have contact with loosing many hundred of thousands of dollars to theft by swindle, we decided to get proactive,

All accounts are monitored monthly by an outside firm for "oddities"
All accounts are double signature accounts. all checks have to be physically signed by two and double recorded. Those who handle the money are subject to a detailed background check, polygraphs are within contractual limits. All disbursements over x amount must be presented to the church board, mortgage, insurance, utilities, and other "set" costs, are all done via wire transfers. All are monitored, and all are not able to change out side of certain limits without board approval.

All banks statements are in triplicate. One goes to chairman of the board, one to church treasurer. one to Auditor. We have some other safeguards too, but will leave those to ourselves.

Where we are, the chances of an armed assault on the church is very thin, we have taken steps just in case though. It has happened to other churches both in good neighborhoods and bad. so you must think about it.