When the subject of church security is raised, it is common to think in terms of the critical need to help protect the lives of members and guests from armed intruders. However, security also involves protection of property and the need to effectively respond to medical emergencies. These events may make less headlines, but they are much more likely to occur at your church than an active shooter event.
Here are some things to consider as you develop a program or review your current security measures:
Start a security team. Ideally, your team will include people with some law enforcement or security experience and some with medical or first aid training. Larger congregations may have two separate teams that work and train together to respond to events in the church.
Develop a plan. There are many resources available to you through your insurance company, government, non-profit organizations, and even the internet. Your plan should be simple, it should be shared with and understood by team members, and training and constant review and updating should be part of the process. UMIP has recorded webinars on church security, active shooter response, and suicide prevention as well as other helpful articles on related topics.
Make sure you have prevention measures. Property security includes measures to help prevent burglary, fire prevention and mitigation, and the use of water leak and freeze detectors. For these measures to be effective, it is important to remember that devices must be kept in working order, turned on, monitored, and someone should be designated to respond to alerts.
Plan for first aid emergencies. Responding to medical emergencies is important for all congregations, especially those with a number of older members. Having proper training and equipment in place may be the difference between life and death. Each church should have proper first aid materials and automatic external defibrillators in visible, accessible locations. Security team members and other volunteers should be trained in CPR, first aid, and how to use external defibrillators.
Know how to handle an active intruder/shooter. Intruder and active shooter response is a challenging issue. UMIP’s webinar with Strategos International is a good place to start to educate you on appropriate preparation and response and can be found at our website, www.uminsure.org/video-resources. Establishing a welcoming atmosphere and having a vigilant and observant team are essential components. Defusing situations before they escalate may not always be possible, but it is a good first line of defense.
Proper planning and training can help make churches safer and more welcoming environments. It all starts with a team, a plan, and the right resources. You can request a free coverage assessment or quote today from Suracy Faith, UMIP’s exclusive agency.