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Are You Taking the Right Security Measures for Your Church?

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    CJF Editorial
The rise of violent crime isn’t just a culture problem, it’s a church problem. In light of the recent Oregon shooting tragedy and the controversy surrounding gun control laws, we are at point where now, more than ever, churches must consider what “security” looks like for them. This is a difficult topic for churches for plenty of reasons. Of course, leaders want to do their best to preserve a peaceful environment in their congregations, and implementing overt security operations can appear to conflict with this goal. Moreover, “the gap between faith and action can be infused with fear,” which can create an incredibly challenging balancing act. Most churches would rather shy away from the uncomfortable debate spawned by discussing the use of deadly force in protecting their people. However, these challenges should never stop a church from truly examining the risks and potential solutions. Every church must make its own decision on what’s best for them, but it’s critical that those decisions are backed with vital information. According to an interview of various experts on church security, the following have been identified as the most essential areas to be considered:
  1. Background Checks: According to the president of the Clear Investigative Advantage (CIA), many churches use free online searches, which are not up to par. Less than 40% of churches actually do background checks through credible firms.
  1. Check-in System: Most churches do not effectively track the whereabouts of their children. Having a secure check-in for children at events is an incredibly valuable safety measure. Some churches have done this by embedding Church Management Software, which allows event administrators to know where their children are at all times.
  1. Aggressive Friendliness: Churches should all train up a team of key people with de-escalation techniques, so they can be equipped to diffuse the situation if/when hostile individuals enter the church.
  1. Emergency Action Plan: Rather than being reactive to emergency, it’s important for churches to have a plan of action ready. Most churches just wait for crisis to hit, but having a proactive protocol for emergencies can be a matter of life or death.
  1. Triage Teams: By identifying qualified teams of paramedics, doctors and nurses who are willing to volunteer, churches can increase congregation protection tremendously. These teams can be responsible for offering triage care before police/ambulances arrive.
  1. Emergency Response Team (ERT) Kits: These should include emergency radios, reflective vests, flashlights and maps of the building. In placing these ERT kits in strategic building locations, distribution can be streamlined in emergencies.
  1. Communications: Simple, two-way radios have been identified as the most effective means to communicate in emergency situations. According to Chuck Chadwick, founder of the National Organization of Church Security and Safety Management, they’re even better than cell-phones which are too dependent on coverage an updated phone numbers.
In matters of security, what you choose for your church is conditional upon your needs—but never be afraid to ask yourself the question. It could save a life, or hundreds. How will you choose to protect your people?