In light of recent events, churches, synagogues and other houses of worship should and need to be concerned with the safety and security of their congregations.
Houses of worship are considered “soft targets”. Often the doors are always open to whoever wants to come in, seldom is anyone turned away and they offer a welcoming place where people can seek spiritual refuge in times of need.
While “hardening” a house of worship may seem like it goes against the reason why it is there in the first place, current times dictate that serious security must be considered by any organization that puts the safety and security of its members first and foremost.
Active shooters will choose targets where they know they will meet zero resistance. Often these are gun free zones, or targets with no visible security layers at all.
The people that choose to carry out these types of horrific acts are not brave, they are cowards. They will scope out their targets in advance and choose the one that they think will offer no resistance that may deter them from their goals.
Hardening starts with an understanding that your place of worship is a soft target. This must be followed by an honest and realistic appraisal of its vulnerabilities.
Make sure your church looks secure so any bad guys will decide it’s too hard to hit and move on to a lower risk target. As they say, you don’t need to outrun the bear, you just need to outrun everyone else.
It is very important not to look like a “soft target”. Many churches, ministries & schools do. Something as simple as a parking lot security patrol presence can be enough to deter attacks.
Attackers will almost always gather intelligence when selecting targets. This is where counterintelligence comes in to play.
A person planning an attack on a place of worship will likely visit the venue during a service to gather information about the location. They may just sit outside and observe the flow of people in and out of the location. Taking note of any visible security, the risk factor associated with those persons who attend services and the timeline of worship services.
They may even enter the venue and attend a service to observe and note the layout of the interior of the venue, looking for things like entry and exit points, whether the doors are secured once the service is underway and how effective an assault would be in relation to the layout of the interior.
Anything out of the ordinary should be noted and reported to the proper authorities. Anyone that seems a little off by asking questions about attendance and organization policies should raise a red flag.
Suspicious persons should be interviewed by staff or security personnel. Abnormal behaviors and/or reactions to simple lines of questioning should also illicit concern.
A simple interview such as asking them questions regarding the persons faith and reasons why they are interested in the organization should be straightforward, if it is not there might be reason for concern.
Some of this counterintelligence may be able to be done with security cameras outside the venue, but this should not be a replacement for physical security as human intuition can not be gleaned by a camera. Cameras don’t have “gut feelings”.
Security Services for Churches, Synagogues and Other Houses of Worship on Cape Cod
Hiring or assembling a security team to work your gatherings can absolutely help mitigate risk to your organization.
This could be a multi-member team of security agents that cover both the inside and outside your place of worship during gatherings, or could be a single security patrol unit stationed outside and actively patrolling the parking lot, perimeter and grounds during gatherings.
Exterior security patrol should be in constant contact with and work in conjunction with your internal security team of volunteers.
One security patrol unit stationed outside and vigilantly patrolling the grounds in an unmarked patrol vehicle may be all it takes to make a potential shooter think twice about choosing your organization as their “soft target”.
A mobile security patrol unit offers a highly visible deterrent (to anyone looking to cause trouble) and can carry out counterintelligence operations, yet is an affordable safety and security option for your organization. As opposed to having a full security team inside and outside.
Security patrols can work with and be in constant contact with your internal security staff of ushers or volunteers to keep a watchful eye over your gatherings.
Call 774 383-2030 or email us today to start securing your organization.
The following training video can help you and your team make plans for prevention, active response, follow-up and long-term care.
Church Active Shooter Awareness and Safety
via The Foursquare Church