Updated: Sep 15
Proverbs 22:3 says that the prudent see danger and take refuge. This is one of the verses quoted by Barry Young, vice president of operations for Strategos International, in his Active Shooter webinar with the Church Protection Connection.
Preventing and preparing for an active shooter event is more complicated than simply seeking refuge and entails more than can be presented even in a webinar like the one referenced above. Here are some things to think about from the webinar that can get you started on your own plan or help you review your existing plan. Strategos believes it is better to “prepare and prevent” than to “repair and repent.”
If your church’s security planning doesn’t make or keep your church a friendly, welcoming environment then it isn’t being done properly. Shooters tend to be troubled individuals acting from anger or a desire for revenge against perceived or actual wrongs. Having people trained to spot warning signs of possible danger among members or visitors is important. Getting help early or identifying threats before may save lives or help someone get counseling before their troubles boil over into confrontation and violence. Spotting suspicious behavior can be the key to early initiation of emergency procedures giving staff and members extra time to “lock out” or “get out” before it comes down to “take out.”
Fewer than 1% of churches have a lockdown procedure that is in place and rehearsed. If a threat is recognized before it enters the building, then locking it out may prevent a shooting or buy additional time for safe evacuation or securing safe places inside the church and its offices and classrooms. Shooters know they have a limited amount of time before help arrives and having to break barriers may keep them from acting or at least slow them down.
For rooms that have multiple exits (such as most sanctuaries), evacuation is a good strategy. However, before moving, one should know the direction or directions from which the threat is approaching. Moving without knowledge or a clear plan can result in being led directly into the path of danger.
If the room has a single exit, learn how to barricade the door using chairs and tables or other furniture. These are typically offices, classrooms, and bathrooms. Again, shooters do not want to waste time breaking in. Do not simply hide in place under tables or behind chairs. A good plan should incorporate training in recognizing which areas are best to escape, which should be secured, and what techniques can be used to secure the rooms.
If the threat is inside, exit the building or the area where the threat is occurring. Again, knowing where the threat is coming from is important so as not to move toward danger.
If all else fails, act quickly and aggressively to take out the threat. Go for the weapon and use whatever may be at hand as a weapon to strike the assailant. As Barry says in the webinar, “fight like you’re the third monkey on the ramp up to the ark and brother, it’s starting to rain.”
Training is critical to recognizing and acknowledging a threat and to creating a rapid, proactive response to the situation. Whether it’s locking an assailant out; securing your current location; fleeing danger; or taking on an intruder; being prepared helps you know how best to respond. Therefore, have a written plan in place, communication to staff and members, and practice to ensure that everyone knows what to do if they see something unusual and how to respond to a threat.
Strategos International engages over 500 security professionals nationwide with bases of operations in Missouri and Texas. We recruit and train quality law enforcement and military veterans who match our strict guidelines for professionalism and service. Each security professional is required to provide the highest level of executive protection, armed or unarmed private security, and bodyguard services.
Since 2002 Strategos International has trained more than 150,000 school, church, and business personnel to prepare for the unexpected. Our training instructors are required to successfully complete a 40-hour course before they are permitted to provide training for schools, churches, or businesses on our “3 OUTs Intruder Response Model for Active Shooters or Intruders.” The instructors have annual briefings for updates on training and require re-certification of their instructor status every 2 years.