Churches, synagogues, temples, mosques, and other houses of worship are meant to be sanctuaries for those who gather there. However, they are not immune to crime.
Houses of worship can be victims of break-ins, theft, trespassing, domestic incidents, and unfortunately, hate crimes and domestic terrorism. While houses of worship welcome all people with open arms, that open-door policy can leave religious facilities vulnerable for those seeking to do harm.
The Importance of Security for Houses of Worship
Security is an essential service for houses of worship, especially those that expect large quantities of visitors for services or events. Large crowds can be a safety hazard, for both the guests and the facility itself.
Preventing crime or unwanted activity is key at a house of worship. Rather than reacting to vandalism or trespassing after an incident has already occurred, it is better to prevent an incident from occurring in the first place. This is why remote video monitoring may be a more effective solution than physical guard services.
Why are Physical Security Officers Not Adequate?
Onsite Security Officers and after-hours courtesy officers have often been utilized to provide a security presence at houses of worship both during services and events and when sanctuaries are closed. While an onsite Security Officer may provide the physical presence of security, they are limited in their views and assessment of a property.
Many houses of worship consist of several buildings and interior departments. Sites of this size would require several onsite Officers to cover the entire property. Even with a full security team, there is still the possibility of suspicious behavior going unnoticed.
The Role of Remote Video Monitoring
Remote video monitoring provides 24/7 security for houses of worship. By installing surveillance cameras, two-way audio speakers, access control management, and other security technologies, your house of worship can be protected and secured without a physical security presence necessary.
Remote video monitoring utilizes proactive virtual patrols and Artificial Intelligence (AI) to monitor a location for any abnormal or unwanted activity. If motion is detected by a camera equipped with AI, an alert will be sent into a Security Operations Center for security professionals to review and react to.
Remote video monitoring differs from traditional security methods because it is proactive and preventative in nature. Rather than waiting for an incident to occur to resolve it, remote video monitoring prevents incidents from escalating by proactively monitoring for suspicious individuals or behavior. Keep reading to learn more about remote video monitoring for houses of worship.
Why Houses of Worship Need Security Measures
Like many other public or private spaces, houses of worship need security measures for several reasons. The open-door policy of houses of worship, while welcoming to members and guests interested in joining the congregation, can leave the property and congregants vulnerable to a variety of security threats. Here are several reasons why houses of worship may need security measures.
The Changing Security Landscape
With security technology constantly evolving, common security solutions are shifting from a physical to a virtual space. Advancements in security technology have led to the widespread use of security cameras, Artificial Intelligence, and other infrastructure. This innovative technology empowers security professionals to remotely monitor and secure a location.
Protecting Congregants, Leaders, and Valuable Assets
Ensuring the safety of congregation members, leaders, and visitors during worship services, events, and other activities is a high priority for houses of worship. All people should feel safe and secure to worship as they please. Heightened security measures can prevent disruptions to worship and even acts of violence that may be directed towards houses of worship.
Preventing Vandalism and Theft
Houses of worship can be targeted for theft, break-ins, and vandalism. Secure measures like intrusion detection, surveillance cameras, and access control can act as deterrents to prevent these incidents.
Mitigating the Risk of Hate Crimes and Violence
Unfortunately, houses of worship can be targets for acts of terrorism and hate crimes. Security measures are necessary to mitigate the risk of such incidents and to protect the community from violence and discrimination. Remote video monitoring can detect suspicious activity to prevent acts of violence before they occur.
Factors to Consider for Comprehensive Security Solutions
There are several factors to consider when choosing a comprehensive security solution for houses of worship.
A professional risk assessment of your house of worship can provide insight into any vulnerabilities in your facilities or gaps in your existing security plan. This includes a security or law enforcement professional evaluating all entry and exit points, other access control measures, and any policy and procedures that are in place for a potential security incident.
By evaluating and reporting on the current protocols, security professionals can offer recommendations on how to improve the security and safety of the house of worship. Having a detailed and well thought out security plan in place for any potential security breach is essential to creating an environment that is safe and comfortable for worship.
The cost of a security solution is determined by many factors, including the size of facilities, the technology needed, hours of monitoring, and more. The traditional security method of hiring one or more onsite Security Officers can be costly very quickly. Remote video monitoring can protect a property 24/7 at a fraction of the cost of a few hours of a Security Officer being onsite.
The surveillance technology that you choose to cover your house of worship, including surveillance cameras, audio speakers, Artificial Intelligence, access control management systems, and more varies due to a variety of factors. Your remote video monitoring provider will help choose the technology best suited to your house of worship. While there be a larger upfront investment with remote video monitoring, the long-term cost and results will balance the cost.
Access control is crucial at houses of worship. While events and services have an open-door policy, all facilities should be secured after hours. Ensuring all doors are locked and only authorized individuals have access is key to protecting your assets and preventing break-ins, theft, and vandalism.
With remote video monitoring, remote access control is possible. Security professionals can monitor who comes and goes from the facility and even grant access to authorized individuals who may not have a key. This can also be applied to specific areas, like administrative offices, nurseries, kitchens, sanctuaries, etc.
Alarm systems are another way to prevent security breaches at houses of worship. Arming your alarm systems when a building is vacant will protect from break-ins and the vandalism and theft it can lead to.
When paired with remote video monitoring, security professionals can remotely monitor your alarm system and react to any intrusions or suspicious activity. When an alarm is triggered, security professionals can review live and recorded footage from surveillance cameras to confirm a breach to prevent false alarms. When there has been a confirmed intrusion, Monitoring Agents can report the incident to local law enforcement and notify your leaders to resolve the incident.
The Role of Remote Video Monitoring
VirtuGuard™ is an interactive remote monitoring or virtual guard service offered by BOS Security. From our Command Centers, headquartered in Athens, Georgia, VirtuGuard™ Agents have access to live video surveillance streams and recorded video from your locations through security cameras and other infrastructure installed on your property. This security infrastructure, combined with AI (Artificial Intelligence) technologies, alerts Agents in our command centers to activity/events as they occur in near real-time. The Command Center Team then reacts accordingly to your site-specific protocols.
Benefits of Remote Video Monitoring
With VirtuGuard™ remote video monitoring, Monitoring Agents can monitor and respond to activities at occur at houses of worship in real-time. Whether you are concerned with security breaches occurring during busy services or when the facilities are vacant, VirtuGuard™ can keep your property safe and secure 24/7/365.
Deterrence of Criminal Activity
VirtuGuard™ focuses on preventing incidents from occurring, rather than reacting to them after they have already occurred. Traditional security methods often only can respond to a security breach after it occurs. Through real-time surveillance, trained security professionals can monitor for suspicious activity and prevent escalation.
Integrate Remote Video Monitoring with Other Security Measures
Remote video monitoring can augment or replace onsite security. If your property utilizes onsite Security Officers or courtesy officers, VirtuGuard™ can report incidents and request a response. Monitoring Agents can direct officers to the exact location of an incident and provide detailed descriptions of an incident and the person or people involved.
VirtuGuard™ can also work with local law enforcement to report incidents and assist in de-escalation and resolutions.
Try VirtuGuard™ Remote Video Monitoring for Your House of Worship
VirtuGuard™ remote video monitoring works to prevent security breaches from occurring at houses of worship. In the event of a break-in, vandalism, theft, or acts of violence, VirtuGuard™ works quickly to resolve incidents remotely and assisting onsite Security staff and local law enforcement.
Houses of worship should be safe from crime and violence, however that is not the reality. With comprehensive security solutions, you can deter and prevent these activities from occurring. To learn more about remote video monitoring for houses of worship, visit virtuguard.com or complete the contact form below.