Developing a Church Security Plan
Coming up with a church security plan is the first step in ensuring the security and safety of parishioners at your church. For one, get together a team tasked with investigating the situation in detail and presenting the options available to you. Always have at least one person on the team who actually has experience in something like law enforcement, military, emergency management or even private security.
1. Decide how many people you want in on the church security plan
- Choose between three and eight people to be in on the team. The exact number of people depends on the number of people in the church. Always ensure that there are experts within the team.
2. Conduct preliminary investigations
- The team has to gather facts about the security situation before coming up with a church security plan. They have to identify potential threats and what the church is able to do to deal with those threats. If possible, have the team undergo specialized training using a seminar or something. Invite experts (in house or otherwise) to do that. Aside from that, you can read books and manuals available online to get a general idea of what you can do.
- Try to commission a professional team to conduct a security needs assessment on the church. It pays. If that is not possible on the church budget, get a security check list which you can go through as a team. Use law local enforcement agencies as a resource.
3. Write a draft church security plan
- The team can prepare a draft church security plan to be reviewed y the leaders of the church. Run it by the local police department who can make an assessment of the plan.
- The plan needs to take into account different layers of the security team. Plan for the parking lot attendants; include the greeters and volunteers both outside and inside, ushers within the sanctuary and the people involved in security for the pastors. There has to be a system of coordination and cooperation between all the layers. This will ensure that threats are identified and neutralized as fast as possible.
4. What to include in a church security plan
- For one, all the personnel in different layers must have their duties and areas of responsibility spelled out in the church security plan.
- The plan must also spell out the specific ways of dealing with different disruptions. Other scenarios to be dealt with are instances of violence, as well as the personal safety of the pastor and other clergy members who are more vulnerable to attack than ordinary parishioners.
- Include within the church security plan detailed procedures for evacuation or lock down if need be. Detail the equipment needed for implementation of the church security plan. These may include security cameras.
- Finally, the church security plan has to include information on how to communicate during crises, both within the church security team and to the congregation. This includes communication with local law enforcement agencies which have to be furnished with the church security plan, accompanied by illustration of the layout of the church campus and any other relevant information. This ensures that they can respond effectively to any distress calls.
- The church security plan should include recommended budgetary allocations for personnel, equipment and training. The amount of money to be spent on church security has to be able to fit in with the overall church budget. Look into free training opportunities to save money.
5. Security Personnel as part of the Church Security Team
- Security personnel can either be hired directly by a church or they can be forwarded by an agency contracted by the church. Hiring security personnel directly makes the church directly responsible for conducting appropriate screening and for any legal consequences arising from the security guard’s actions.
- Police officers who are off duty can be hired as part of the church security team cause of their training and experience. Try to avoid having security personnel armed with guns because it exposes the church to risk of injury or death by stray bullets and the ensuing legal consequences. Make this decision very carefully after consulting church elders, the local police department and insurers.
6. Get the Church Security Plan in Motion
- Rate the effectiveness of the church security plan by simulating different scenarios. This will help to reveal any weaknesses in the plan. Try out the lockdown and evaluation procedures, the communication between team members and with the congregation. Testing will help to know how good the church security plan is.