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Old 10-05-2012, 09:52 PM
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Default Church Security / Safety Efforts?

I'm curious if any Forum members are part of safety or security efforts at their churches.

I've been part of a volunteer team at mine for a little over two years now. Our church is blessed to be able to pay an off-duty uniformed officer as a visible presence (complete with his/her take-home marked Tahoe out front). To bolster this, we field at least one team member during services to walk the campus and lock certain doors, cut off lights, look for fire / trip / etc. hazards, look out for vandalism and folks "wandering around" the facility.

The officer also conducts foot and vehicular patrols, and is key to traffic control when services conclude.

To date, we've only had to contend with some relatively minor vandalism, one threat against a staff member that thankfully never materialized, and a couple of wily escapes of toddlers from our nursery haha!

We performed some due-diligence on the front-end of the effort from legal and insurance perspectives, and we talked to our on-site paid officers to find out how we can best help them.

Any comments or feedback are welcomed!
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Old 10-05-2012, 10:22 PM
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i am a member of a church with about 30 members: a couple of whom are in nursning homes. i'm 62 and one of the "youngsters". a few months ago some of the older members thought we should start locking the front door during services. now, just before i help light the candles i lock the door and unlock it after the service. we haven't had any break-ins or church robberies in this area, but the cities where we get our TV coverage do have these problems. crime is increasing in our area as more and more folks are out of work. i guess i'm the only one who still leaves their keys in the car during church. i'm also the only one who carries to chruch but no one there know it but my wife. lee

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Old 10-05-2012, 10:31 PM
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in my state I can't legally CCW in a place of worship .. unless I am part of that places of worships security detail.
thats about as close to "printing" as ill get on the subject
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Old 10-05-2012, 10:46 PM
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We have local Sheriffs at mine but I carry regardless....
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Old 10-05-2012, 10:51 PM
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I attend a church of about 300 in a small city of 10,000. We are way to small to hire any kind of security. I am on the First Responder medictal team at work, and purchased an AED and O2 bottle for the church. The ushers have a list of other First Responders and nurses in case of medical emergencies.

I have taken my pastor out to the range shooting and offered him a good deal on a M15 I let him shoot (he ended up passing). But he did ask me a while back if I knew of anyone who carried at church. This was just after that shooting in Oak Creek, WI. He thought it would be a good idea if several would carry. I said I had thought about it, but would give it more serious thought. I suggested mentioning this to a retired hwy patrolman who is a member. I work shift-work, so can only attend 3 Sundays out of 5 at most. Now that the weather had turned colder, it's much easier to wear a sport coat. . . Seeing that my Gold Cup Trophy is my nicest looking and most accurate 1911, it has been pressed into service.
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Old 10-05-2012, 11:31 PM
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We have a Security Team comprised of members, including several retired LE and current military. The teams duties are constantly being refined and we have received input from several sources throughout the US that provide training and information. We have no team member designated to carry by the church leadership. There are several church members that have Oklahoma SDA (CCW) licenses and carry and the Pastor is aware of it. We even occasionally get together for a men's outing at the range.
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Old 10-05-2012, 11:42 PM
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Luke 22: 35-36.
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Old 10-06-2012, 12:03 AM
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Unfortunately there are folks who specialize in robbing churches. Some are just common burglars who can strike anytime even though they hit mostly at night when no one is there. They steal whatever is laying around, including money, sound systems, art, and anything else a burglar would find useful. We had a group that came through here several years ago that specialized in stealing the ladies purses from the choir room while the ladies were participating in the services. It's amazing how much they could steal in money and jewelry from a choir room. They would hit several churches on the same Sunday and then you would hear about something similar happening a state or two away a few days later.

The church I was raised in was eventually located in a bad part of town. Before we moved we had installed safes, locks, video, and security people inside the church and out in the parking lot where cars had been broken into. Several times services had been interupted by drunks or druggies. Some were cared for and others you couldn't help. Most of the large churches around here have paid security and the smaller ones do it themselves. Nowdays it's necessary to be prepared for anything.
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Old 10-06-2012, 12:20 AM
mtelkhntr mtelkhntr is offline
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Our church is located in a city of just under 100K people and located in a relatively safe residential area. Twice, however, in the last 10 years it's been burglarized at night. Other than petty cash, no money is kept at the church so they damaged doors, locking file cabinets and stole some communion wine. Property damage was the costliest. We've put internal security lights/cameras that give out an audible warning of trespassing and also record the event on a memory card that can be downloaded on a computer. Although we felt violated like anyone else who has been burglarized, I want to believe that whatever they took, they needed worse than us. I just wish they wouldn't tear up so much woodwork doing it. If they'd have come during the day and asked, we could have just given them what they needed.
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Old 10-06-2012, 12:37 AM
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I have been carrying at church constantly since 9/11. It is my opinion that houses of worship are going to be targets of terrorists. I have read that high placed intelligence officials have said the same thing. There have also been many shootings at churches due to domestic disputes. I always carry two guns, deeply concealed, with a reload for each. One is my Glock 27, the other my S&W M340PD. Nobody has ever known. I told my Pastor about it several years ago, and he approved. Then a year or so ago a board member said the board had discussed having somebody armed in the service. He asked me if I would do so. I told him I already do, but to keep it a secret.
I take this VERY seriously. I never intend to have my Family, both natural and Spiritual be a victim if I can help it. Thankfully, I can help it.
Jim
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Old 10-06-2012, 01:00 AM
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I have been carrying at church constantly since 9/11. It is my opinion that houses of worship are going to be targets of terrorists. I have read that high placed intelligence officials have said the same thing. There have also been many shootings at churches due to domestic disputes. I always carry two guns, deeply concealed, with a reload for each. One is my Glock 27, the other my S&W M340PD. Nobody has ever known. I told my Pastor about it several years ago, and he approved. Then a year or so ago a board member said the board had discussed having somebody armed in the service. He asked me if I would do so. I told him I already do, but to keep it a secret.
I take this VERY seriously. I never intend to have my Family, both natural and Spiritual be a victim if I can help it. Thankfully, I can help it.
Jim
It's interesting to me that you mention 9/11 here - that's my own experience, too.

I'd carried to church sporadically at best prior - something just didn't "feel right" to me about it. I got over that sensation the first Sunday following 9/11.
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Old 10-06-2012, 04:52 AM
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There is a murder trial in the news here that involves a man accused of beating up a pastor and tying him, then suffocating him with a plastic bag over his head. The pastor's secretary was beaten so severely that her own husband didn't recognize her when he found her on the floor. Various items were stolen, inc. a computer and the reverend's car.

I suspect that the accused will be convicted, based on what has been shown in court. But that this happened is disgusting and would be unheard of a few years ago.

When I worked private security, I was several times stationed at Jewish synagogues or tabernacles, temples, whatever they're called. (I asked some of the congregations and they didn't know the difference, either. ) Anyway, whatever their churches are called, they were concerned about terrorists and perhaps about car break-ins. This was mainly on their special holy days, when I guess they felt especially vulnerable. Yom Kippur and Rosh Hoshannah, if I spelled them right. I know we have some here who'll know.

I thought this was awful, having to fear that terrorists would attack a religious service, although I am not of that faith. Sounds like something out of the Middle East.

Now, it seems that houses of worship of all faiths are experiencing thefts and possible killings by any nutcase who wants TV time. A Sikh temple was the last to make the news in this way. I hate to see this, and it reminds me of the Puritans in old New England having to go armed to services due to possble Indian attacks.

There is something sick about a person or group who will rob or kill people on holy ground. And if armed members in the service is what it takes to protect the worshippers, I hope they are available.

I trust that this discussion is about crime and doesn't violate the ban here on religion.

Last edited by Texas Star; 10-06-2012 at 04:08 PM.
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Old 10-06-2012, 08:56 AM
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I was going to say that nobody can find our Church, but it didn't seem like a proper response.
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Old 10-06-2012, 09:07 AM
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I attend a church with currently 8,000 members and runs 4 services. We do not have anyone to my knowledge hired to oversee safety during services. We do have several active on-duty LEO's attend services. Never had a problem to date. Been attending for 6 years. God is good.
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Old 10-06-2012, 09:47 AM
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Our church runs about 250 attendance on Sunday, located in a large suburban area. I and several other members carry in church at the request of our church safety committee. They recognize that to a criminal, churches are "fair game". The church's top concern is keeping our children safe from sexual predators, and they have a full spectrum safety plan covering natural disasters, medical emergencies, and so on including security against lethal threats. Actually, it is the church safety committee that first got me to seriously consider carrying, and now it's like American Express--I don't leave home without it.
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Old 10-06-2012, 10:25 AM
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There is more to a church security plan than who is going to deal with a mean person should they show up with a gun. Though that is a real threat to consider, there are other issues that need to be considered.

For example, what is the plan should the fire alarm (if you have one) go off during services? I was in a service a few years ago and everyone sat there until someone silenced it. Funny, it had never gone off before, wonder what made it go off that morning. Well, it was a FIRE! Lack of attention to that situation nearly got some people hurt.

What's the plan should a tornado warning be issued during services? What's the plan should an elderly man or woman collapse with a heart attack during services? (Been there, done that!) What's the plan should a child come up missing during a church activity? What's the plan should the power go off during services, especially in some sanctuaries that don't have natural lighting?

Lastly, what IS the plan should a suspicious person show up during services. We know we should welcome even those who are not just like us to church. Just because they are suspicious looking does not mean they are not seeking worship. But, when a young fellow shows up in summer time in a long black trench coat, or maybe a dark hoodie with the hood pulled up, or maybe he's acting hinky and has his hands in the pockets of his bulky cargo pants. Do we just wait and see IF he's a psychopath with a gun? What IS the plan?

In consideration of the congregation, somebody had better have given these and other potential situations some thought and planning before these things happens, praying all the while that it never does. Every church I've ever seen or heard from after a serious event thought it could never happen there.

By the way, the thinking "we have a couple of cops and firefighters who go to church here" is not a plan.
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Old 10-06-2012, 11:09 AM
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I trust that this discussion is about crime and doesn't violate the ban here on religion.
Hey thank you for mentioning this - I admit that I did not read the rule on this until after seeing your post. My apologies to the Forum if this has crossed into a banned topic; my interest is purely on the concept of security in houses of worship.

Thanks, all, for the replies so far.

Many have mentioned CCW in churches. My state allows it and my closest friends and fellow team members know that I carry regularly. It's not a requirement for our team and I know several folks in our congregation who carry and are not part of the security / safety effort.

If interested, check out an organization called the Church Security Alliance for lots of helpful, interesting information, also.
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Old 10-06-2012, 11:11 AM
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There is more to a church security plan than who is going to deal with a mean person should they show up with a gun. Though that is a real threat to consider, there are other issues that need to be considered.

For example, what is the plan should the fire alarm (if you have one) go off during services? I was in a service a few years ago and everyone sat there until someone silenced it. Funny, it had never gone off before, wonder what made it go off that morning. Well, it was a FIRE! Lack of attention to that situation nearly got some people hurt.

What's the plan should a tornado warning be issued during services? What's the plan should an elderly man or woman collapse with a heart attack during services? (Been there, done that!) What's the plan should a child come up missing during a church activity? What's the plan should the power go off during services, especially in some sanctuaries that don't have natural lighting?

Lastly, what IS the plan should a suspicious person show up during services. We know we should welcome even those who are not just like us to church. Just because they are suspicious looking does not mean they are not seeking worship. But, when a young fellow shows up in summer time in a long black trench coat, or maybe a dark hoodie with the hood pulled up, or maybe he's acting hinky and has his hands in the pockets of his bulky cargo pants. Do we just wait and see IF he's a psychopath with a gun? What IS the plan?

In consideration of the congregation, somebody had better have given these and other potential situations some thought and planning before these things happens, praying all the while that it never does. Every church I've ever seen or heard from after a serious event thought it could never happen there.

By the way, the thinking "we have a couple of cops and firefighters who go to church here" is not a plan.
You are so right on all of the above. These things have been on a list of topics I'm trying to get some traction on with folks at my church!
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Old 10-06-2012, 11:52 AM
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Aside from the megachurch I worked at (40k members on multiple locations) the other churches where I've attended/worked do not have set security detail.

It seriously bothers me. As secure as we get is someone waits to leave with me after I lock up on Wednesday night. The senior pastor does not want anyone carrying on premises, and I respect that, but I do not like it at all.

One night during rehearsal we had someone walk in looking for assistance (money) while some of our members listened to her story and directed her to the shelter, some noticed me automatically putting my hand where I'd normally be carrying. I wasn't but some of the choir thought I was. They know I usually carry, I make no secret about it, and since they see my hands all the time to watch me, they've seen some of my nastier slide bites. Anyway, it's times that like that--when someone walks in-- why I don't like not being able to carry at church or have someone who is. Most of the time people really are looking for help, but you never knwo when that one person is going to walk in with the intent to harm others.

We do have shelter in place kinds of instructions as we are near many refineries.

The alarm system? Does not cover all areas of the church, some of which I think are much bigger areas of risk than others.

The church I work at, as well as the last two I've been at as a member, are woefully inadequate as to their security standards.

I had a terrible dream one night about the church being broken into while I was there alone and how long I had to stay in one hidey place.

While I was working at megachurch, the building went on lockdown once. Someone had robbed a bank across the street, and ran into our building. I was in my office on the 4th floor, with only one entrance. I was terrified. I hid under my desk with the lights off and all I was armed with was a conductor's baton. Really? Maybe I could jab an eye out IF my stick didn't break.

Then I didn't hear the announcement that all was secure and some kids came into the instrument room making all kinds of noise and when I went to investigate, they had no clue that the building had even been on lockdown.
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Old 10-06-2012, 12:11 PM
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In my opinion, at least regarding CCW, one of the most important aspects is absolute secrecy as to whomever is carrying. I mentioned earlier a board member asked me to carry. I told him I do, but PLEASE keep that a secret. He said he would. Shortly after we had a church "Fellowship". (That is a religious term meaning a gathering where we all get together and eat....a lot). I saw this board members Wife and she said, in a very loud voice, "Jim, we (She and some other Women) were talking about carrying guns, do you carry one at church?" I said "no, I never do that". Yeah, I lied, but what could I do in that situation? The board member had obviously discussed it with his Wife. I don't want people to know I carry, for a number of reasons. One, I want it to be a surprise if I ever have to draw, but also, I don't want somebody who wants to possibly get me in trouble to have that information to possibly say I did something inappropriate. If they don't know I'm armed, that's not likely to happen.
My Wife's brother goes to a church in another Iowa city that probably runs about 800 people per service. He has a Navy background, and owns a few guns. He's considered getting his CCW permit but hasn't yet. He has, numerous times at family gatherings talked about the people who carry at his church. I have repeatedly told him not to discuss this issue, especially with people who go to his church. He does not understand why, even though I have explained it to him. I think he just thinks it's cool. He doesn't realize spreading this information can have disastrous effects.
Taking on this responsibility requires maturity, training and discretion. I have been carrying at church for years. I could count on one hand the people who know about it. I intend to keep it that way.
Jim
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Old 10-06-2012, 01:16 PM
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In my opinion, at least regarding CCW, one of the most important aspects is absolute secrecy as to whomever is carrying. . . . "Jim, we (She and some other Women) were talking about carrying guns, do you carry one at church?" I said "no, I never do that". Yeah, I lied, but what could I do in that situation? The board member had obviously discussed it with his Wife. I don't want people to know I carry, for a number of reasons. One, I want it to be a surprise if I ever have to draw, but also, I don't want somebody who wants to possibly get me in trouble to have that information to possibly say I did something inappropriate. If they don't know I'm armed, that's not likely to happen.
If asked point-blank by someone not in leadership, I wouldn't lie--I'd smile and say, "You never know" or maybe "Why do you ask?" If I'm known to be lying, then it casts doubt on my integrity.

However the members who are carrying at my church generally know who else is carrying, and so does the elder council and security team. My main reason for keeping it secret is so it doesn't freak out anyone who would be shocked at the idea--I don't want to disturb the atmosphere of worship. But I also don't want the general public looking to me to intervene when perhaps no intervention is necessary in my opinion.
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Old 10-06-2012, 03:22 PM
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...one of the "youngsters". a few months ago some of the older members thought we should start locking the front door during services...
Obviously too young to have heard of the Coconut Grove nightclub fire.
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Old 10-06-2012, 04:11 PM
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If it gets out that church members are carrying, the media will probably have a field day with that. They'd love to sensationalize it and predict accidents, angry shootings, all the things they promised would happen if CCW laws passed.

And they'll make a religious issue of it.
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