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Church security

Discussion in 'Strategies, Tactics and Training' started by Jeremiah10:23, Mar 16, 2012.

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  1. Hunter125

    Hunter125 Member

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    Places like Southeast in Louisville, KY have paid, armed guards for their pastors and the members of the church. I am very interested in this topic as I am headed into ministry and have recently gotten my CCW permit.
    I am in Seminary and have chatted with a couple mentors and professors about the topic. They all seemed to say that there is no need for security, especially armed, unless there is a specific threat (the pastors of Southeast regularly get death threats). I tend to disagree. I think the whole point of CCW is being prepared for the threat you don't know is coming.
    I won't pretend to know much about the legal ramifications, but if the church didn't have a budget for security I think I would start an unofficial grassroots training for people who would be willing to CCW during church and 'happen' to sit in strategic locations during services.
    I did an internship at a church where my mentor said he would not advocate CCW, but that elders and deacons, big guys, Sat at the back in case something happened. That's all well and good, unless the problem is a guy with a gun.
    I see CCW in church the same as having people trained in first aid/CPR in each service and having defibulators in the church.
    The youth ministry prof at my undergrad had his students do a project on church security, so at least they are being trained to think about it.
    I know a few churches that ask their LE members show up in uniform. My cousin does that at his church of about 3000.
     
  2. Taurus 617 CCW

    Taurus 617 CCW Member

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    I am in the middle of setting up a security staff at our church. We are a small church (100 members). Our community is fairly safe in comparison to other places around the country but things can happen anywhere. We are located 150 feet from a major interstate and our parking lot attracts transients from time to time. Cash is handled on the premises and a lot of families with children attend. Crimes of opportunity happen a couple times a year. We are planning on meeting with local law enforcement once a year at a minimum to keep them informed on what's going on. The greatest focus for our security staff is serving our congregation in any way we can and ensuring the services remian a safe place to attend.

    Our security plan includes the following:
    Facilitating the handling and transfer of cash to the safe.
    Helping elderly members find seats and get in/out of their cars.
    Watching over the Sunday school children while service is going.
    Greeting folks as they enter the building.
    Watching the entry/parking lot while service is going (knowing who is coming and going in the building).
    Escorting guest speakers to the hospitality area after service concludes (so they don't get caught talking for 2 hours and miss out on a meal prepared in their honor)

    Being prepared to respond to the following:
    Medical emergencies (CPR/first aid trained), Adding an AED later. (CPR, call 911 for EMS)
    Emotionally distraught (refer to a care team member)
    Disruptive behavior (escorted from congregation)
    Domestic problems/abuse (watch for signs, escort from congregation, recommend counseling, call 911)
    Smash and grabs in the parking lot (they do happen)(deter, observe/report, and notify law enforcement)
    Unstable individuals (mentally or socially) (escorted away from congregation)
    Any person who indicates or intends to do harm to another (escorted from congregation, or call 911)
    Robbery (Call 911, respond with use of force as necessary)
    Active shooter (probably won't happen but we are prepared anyway)(Call 911 immediately. If shooting occurs, we are prepared to take the person(s) down with any means necessary)

    Tools we utilize:
    Security cameras in non-conspicuous places
    Radio communication
    Cell phones
    Verbal
    CCW
    First aid bag
    Training for CPR/first aid
    Traning for using weapons and unarmed defense
     
  3. Fred Fuller

    Fred Fuller Moderator Emeritus

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  4. btg3

    btg3 Member

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    Perhaps at your church?

    In a congregation of 1000+, the last thing my church wants is CC by folks with poor compentency or judgement. The pros tell us we should train to tackle a gunman if possible, and only return fire as a last resort.

    Our church has sponsored a few CWP classes for our membership, but most have done no shooting beyond the CWP qualifier.

    Fortunately, we do have a few men that we depend on for CC inside the buildings. And we also designate others to CC while patroling the parking lot during services.

    Note: If you are considering an armed "security team" at your church, you plainly need a lawyer to explain the difference between a security team and a safety team. And keep your insurance agent on board as well.

    As we all know, numerous churches have experienced an active shooter. In case you are unaware, the cost of each incident for legal counsel, biohazard cleanup, etc, typically exceeds $800,000 and the ministry is impacted in other ways for years to come. Is your church adequately insured?

    After serious consideration of cost-effective options, we decided to lock all doors during service and have safety team members posted at key entrances to allow late entry. We are in radio contact and wear neon vests to project a visible presence on church property. Next steps are to complete installation of cameras and train a core team to the level of a bonafide security team.

    Filling the pews with CCs might allow a church to react to an active shooter, but a church should not neglect prevention.

    Analysis of information compiled from active-shooter events tells much. A key point is that there is ALWAYS a progressive series of escalating steps leading up to the shooting. Each step is an opportunity for intervention and prevention. Training can help your team understand this progression and identify an opportunity that may save your church from having to experience an active shooter.
     
  5. Loosedhorse

    Loosedhorse member

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    One thing that seems to be missing is a plan of security when there is only one or two persons in the facility: sexton doing repairs, secretary working on the computer, etc.

    Otherwise, nice list. I take it "disruptive behavior" would include any illegal activity.

    How have you arranged training for verbal skills and unarmed defense?
    Unless you have an airport-level weapon-exclusion system, you are probably best served by the assumption that everyone is entering armed.
    If a "gunman" is actively killing people, I'd say we've entered "last resort" territory. I'll take any port in that storm.
     
  6. 2zulu1

    2zulu1 Member

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    I attend a cowboy church that brings a number of ranchers/farmers from as far away as 40 miles, looks like we will have some things to talk about in morning.
     
  7. Riz58

    Riz58 Member

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    I am on our Church Security Team, which we call our "Safety Team". Very much below the radar. We used the Church Security Alliance materials and they are excellent. We modified them with materials from other church programs.

    Regarding the need, as someone noted, just search the internet for church shootings. Active shooter is a risk, although statistically very small, but attacks on the pastor are common. Kidnapping of children by non-custodial parents is fairly common, as are robbery attempts of the offering. Demonstrations occur with some frequency, and rowdy drunks come in to get warm occasionally.

    Our pastor has come to ask a safety team member be with him when meeting an upset husband whose wife was moved to safe housing by the church following a domestic violence sitaution. We have been asked to watch a certain member of the congregation who is know to be upset by some action of church staff regarding family situations.

    The threat is real. At one time even criminal would respect God's house, but not anymore. There was a reason that the Temple had a special Temple Guard. We are the modern day equivilent of that elite group.
     
  8. Loosedhorse

    Loosedhorse member

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    I recognize the gravity of being asked to act as a "safety" volunteer in any venue, and especially in a house of worship. Please accept the following in that spirit.
    Very tough situation. Besides the possibility of intruding on the pastor-parishoner relationship, what if things had gone bad? "And why were you there, exactly?" "Oh, to shoot him if he got out of line." The fact that the conversation would not go that way doesn't mean that it wouldn't be taken that way.
    Why elite? I understand that safety volunteers are accepting the burden of helping others in an emergency, which may involve calling 911 or helping older members to the exit.

    Or perhaps killing a human being, who might be a distraught member of the congregation, possibly in front of his family and friends. Not sure "elite" is the term that comes to mind.
     
  9. theicemanmpls

    theicemanmpls Member

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    I wonder what one should carry in church? OC, or CCW. Semi, or wheel gun? Is it ok to show up in Gods house packing a Taurus, or a Charter Arms? Would God know? Would he be angry, and punish you?

    9mm vs .45?

    Hymn books cut out to contain mouse gun. .380, or .32? LCP, or SIG?

    HP or ball?

    In the pulpit, Mossberg or 877? Bird, or buck?

    Counter snipers in the choir balcony? .308, or .223? AR or Bolt?

    So many questions.

    WWJD?

    What is sad, churches have become targets of opportunity for many of society's misfits. The very people, churches claim they wish to help. Sad situation indeed.
     
    Last edited: Mar 17, 2012
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  10. Riz58

    Riz58 Member

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    Loosedhorse: You may be parsing words a little too finely:

    Being with pastor when talking to upset husband: The mere fact that there is a third party there seems to encourage the upset party to not take physical action. These are not counseling sessions, but meetings after the service where the upset person has asked to meet with the pastor. If a physical attack occurred, it would be two on one. Not all members of the safety team are armed, but if one was there and the upset party threatens deadly force, then, yes, deadly force would be applied by the trained team member.

    I am not using elite in for form of special forces or anything like that. We do screen our members, and most people in our church have no interest in serving in a position such as this. We do not want Rambo or Barney Fife, we want level-headed individuals who see this service as part of their ministry on the behalf of the Lord.

    We have also prepared evacuation plans and routes. Have trained our ushers on the evacuation plan, unruly folks, etc. Heightened awareness will hopefully prevent us from needing to do anything but escort the occasional drunk out of the service or preventing wayward youth from damaging cars n the parking lot.
     
  11. Scout Dork

    Scout Dork Member

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    Be careful of "locking" all your doors, this could violate fire codes. Hopefully the doors have panic bars that meet code.

    Just like the TSA rules, they may make you feel safer, but do they really do anything to stop the threat. Where is your threat coming from, within?

    I would have the church leaders talk to all the members one-on-one, making the members take "ownership". An old lady and a purse have foiled bank robbery's.

    One of the local pastors was just listed as a "Hate Group" by the Southern Poverty Law Center. Why would your church/members be a target?
     
  12. Loosedhorse

    Loosedhorse member

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    I may be. And perhaps you are parsing facts.

    That "third party present" was armed. To me, that's hardly a "mere" presence. There is something quite anti-safety about arranging a meeting where you think it's a good idea to have a gun present, in case you have to shoot that specific someone. Not an "in general", "violence can happen anytime" precaution: this person, this specific meeting. Unless the pastor wants an armed person present "just in case" for all his meetings, the special request here for an armed safety volunteer means everyone knew that the meeting they were arranging could be dangerous. But they arranged it anyway.

    Personally, I'm not sure I'd want to arrange a dangerous meeting. And if I did anyway, I'm not sure a third person carrying a gun would be my preferred violence prevention method. JMHO.

    As to Rambo and Barney Fife: I usually expect antigunners to be the ones who use those stereotypes. A person who is simply a level-headed gun-owner is, to my mind, a standard, common gun-owner: not elite in any sense of the word.
     
    Last edited: Mar 17, 2012
  13. Hunter125

    Hunter125 Member

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    As far as the situation of something happening when not many people are there, I think that staff members carrying would solve that problem for the most part. I will be carrying as a pastor if it is legal for me to do so. I would feel responsible for the safety of the other people in the office.
     
  14. Taurus 617 CCW

    Taurus 617 CCW Member

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    By verbal skills I was meaning that we communicate frequently but that is a good consideration. I understand in law enforcement training academies, they teach a section on dealing with people on a verbal basis (and actually emphasize it as a first resort). I will look into it.

    Unarmed defense traning can include basic martial arts, or law enforcement holding positions We also utilize the concept of having a few not so small men as greeters and sancturary door men. It serves as a visual deterrent but they are also friendly and hug most folks on their way in.
     
    Last edited: Mar 18, 2012
  15. Trunk Monkey

    Trunk Monkey Member

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    In my experience most Pastors insist that a third party is present at all pastoral counseling sessions for the protection of both parties. Generally the third party is another member of the pastoral staff.
     
  16. Trunk Monkey

    Trunk Monkey Member

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    While I understand the need for security in a church setting, I am uneasy with this thread. There are some serious legal ramifications involved with starting a church security team. Let one of your unlicensed “volunteers” so much as touch me with a kutobaton, or even lay his bare hand on me, and I will own your church.

    I don’t care how well trained your security team is they have no official standing to act in any law enforcement capacity and all it takes is one overzealous usher and your church could be on the hook.
     
  17. Taurus 617 CCW

    Taurus 617 CCW Member

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    Point well taken. Nix the kubaton comment.
     
  18. Loosedhorse

    Loosedhorse member

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    Thanks. My experience has been different, so your perspective helps me.
    Not if you needed to be physically dealt with, and there is an entire congregation that will testify to that.

    But your point that placing hands on people is a legally treacherous step is well taken. Without justification, it constitutes battery. Another argument for security cameras.
     
    Last edited: Mar 18, 2012
  19. Trunk Monkey

    Trunk Monkey Member

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    Let one of your unlicensed, overeager, volunteers some much as touch a parishoner with a kubaton and let me know how that works out for you.

    I have some experience in the security field; I also have some experience in the church world, specifically as an usher. Both groups seem to draw authoritarian types and while this may not be the norm in every church I have seen ushers take on the mentality of “rule enforcers” or believe themselves to be the “Temple Guard”.

    All it would take is one incident with one overzealous “Temple Guard” (Temple Guard being Jesus speak for “Sheepdog”) for the church to find itself in litigation or on the news.

    Niether case being what the Pastor wants I'm sure.
     
  20. Loosedhorse

    Loosedhorse member

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    Why the tone, dude? I don't own any parishoners, they're not "mine."

    However, if you come into my church and pose a threat to me and mine, you will be dealt with. Let me know how that works out for you. Okay?

    Geez! :rolleyes:

    I've lived in a lot of states where people seem like they just can't wait to play the "my lawyer is bigger than your lawyer" game. I guess you live in one of them.
     
  21. larry_minn

    larry_minn Member

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    Lets see "Love for fellow man/women, Charity, Faith. ..." All dangerous things. It seems many people don't respect the choice others make regards faith. Some are crazy, and others.....
    I have sat in parking lot during a wedding watching for the brides "ex" to show. We have had drug MAKERS break into chruch to steal stuff. (including equipment to manufacutre meth)
    Our plan is very basic. At first hint of threat the service is moved to one of TWO locations. (depending on nature of threat) We have access/ prior permission for both. Note if its a "Bomb threat" you do NOT allow anyone into 2nd location UNTIL it has been checked first. (if 2nd location is common knowledge at least)
     
  22. larry_minn

    larry_minn Member

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    That is why we go "Biblical" We use a staff.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Mar 18, 2012
  23. dev_null

    dev_null Member

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    Now where have I heard that argument before? :scrutiny:
     
  24. wheelgunslinger

    wheelgunslinger Member

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    Indeed.
     
  25. Riz58

    Riz58 Member

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    LoosedHorse: Re the pastor meeting - no one open carries. The person attending may or may not be armed. We operate well below the radar. Re dangerous meetings - our pastor believes it best to deal with the upset individual in the church setting instead being confronted in the parking lot or elsewhere. We have his back.

    Yes, and any situation could become violent, but we have to deal with probabilities. A husband who is upset because his abused wife has been sequestered somewhere is much different than the crying mom who just lost a chiel. We plan the odds just as each of us does everyday.

    We have the 3rd in command at the Sheriff's office, the person in charge of SWAT, SWAT team members, and other LEOs involved as well as civilians. An no, one cannot presume that the average gun owner is level-headed enought to deal with the specific situations that may arise in a church. We do not prohibt any appropriately licenced person from carrying concealed, they just may not be on our Safety Team. Some people respond well to adversity and pressure, and some don't. Some can make quick decisions with limited facts, and some cannot. For some a little authority goes to theri head, and other not. Some can be discrete and some not.

    We are confident in our plan and in our people. We believe we have enhanced the safety of our church without making it less open and friendly. We would never lock our doors, we just watch them. We want security to be something our pastor never has to think about because we have it covered.
     
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