Places of worship are expected to be sanctuaries. They provide somewhere to relax, let your guard down and be a part of something bigger than yourself. But they can also be vulnerable targets for just that reason. Worshippers are often lost in prayer or conversation with fellow congregants. Frequently they are facing the officiant, making it impossible to view the doors and observe people entering with their back to the doors.
So, how do you find a balance between keeping these buildings secure while allowing them to be open and welcoming to the community?
Review the Physical Layout of the Building
Egress: Where do people enter and exit? Emergency exits must be provided, but entrance can be limited to one or two controlled doorways. Ensure that windows locked, particularly those on the first floor.
Blind Spots: Pay attention to the line of sight. Are there areas where an intruder could easily hide? What can be done to correct the condition?
Security: Check that locks are up-to-date and that you know who has keys. Replace the locks if too many unknown people have keys. Be sure that all doors and windows are in good repair.
Establish a Security Committee: Meet regularly to discuss worst-case scenarios and brainstorm responses. Include clergy and ushers so they know what do look for and can guide attendees.
Practice Emergency Procedures: A posted and rehearsed plan can ensure that your staff, volunteers, and congregants can respond quickly and calmly. Prepare for fires, fights, attacks, and shootings.
Train Staff and Volunteers: Teach people what to expect and how to respond to violent situations. Assign roles to key personnel, so there is no question as to who should be doing what when the time comes.
Work with Local Law Enforcement: Ask them to speak to your security committee to offer the benefit of their experience and offer suggestions.
Consider your Security Options
Visible Deterrence: Adding a uniformed guard can increase the sense of security of the people who belong in the building while making those who don’t think twice.
Remote Monitoring: If you are uncomfortable with the presence of a guard, remote monitoring may be the answer. Strategically placed cameras can detect anything going on, without disrupting worshippers.
Need to learn more about security options for your church?
Contact the experts at BOS Security. We help keep people and property safe no matter where they are — 24/7/365. If you would like more information on balancing security and profitability, contact us at 404-793-6965.