Church Security - is your church ahead of the curve?

https://www.usconcealedcarry.com/blog/my-experience-with-church-security/

I know a lot of you are part of your church’s security team, be glad your church is forward thinking for everyone’s security.

Did you see your security team at the service you attended today?

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I’m on the Security team. I also am on the sound and screen team. Days like today, I run the sound mixer from the crows nest. Other than the handful of people sitting behind me, I see everything going on in the auditorium. We have cameras, keypad locking doors on children’s areas, and nurseries. During services, we lock everything but the front door. They are crash door type, so they can be opened from the inside. The front door has a security team member by it during services. Through the week, ALL doors are locked Andy you must be buzzed in, or know the code, or have a key. Some of us are ccw holders. Many of our church members are as well. Our church staff all aspects of safety very seriously.

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It’s been so long since I’ve been to a civilian church on a regular basis I can say I’ve never been to a church with a security team. Since we can’t conceal carry on a military base and that’s where I primarily go to church at…there doesn’t seem to be a need for security teams.

That being said…I did watch and study the USCCA videos on church security and how to react to an active shooter and I know for a fact that when I retire and back attending services “outside the gate” I’ll be carrying.

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Thanks for the article. Our church has done a 3 year assessment on our physical security as well as the way our church and the groups that use it access it. We made a ton of changes around the campus and came up with a preparedness plan for various “events” we may encounter. We have learned that about 75% of churches have not done a formal assessment nor have a preparedness plan in place.

Now we are at the point where we have started a safety ministry team that patrols on Sunday morning. We have hit some of the obstacles the author of the article mentioned and are working to change minds and attitudes. While we would like to let the team members who have their CCW carry, we can’t right now. Congregants who are not on the team that have their CCW are welcome and legally able to carry, so if an active threat happened at least some of the folks could take action, other than utilizing environmental weapons against a shooter.

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Our church is still in the beginning stages of building both safety and security in the church. One person is heading it up and he’s put together a good team. A couple do carry, but I’m not sure about others. I’m not actually on the team since I’m often involved in doing other things during the service. They’ve updated first-aid kits, installed two AED’s in the church, lock the exterior doors once the service starts, monitor the building while the church is open, etc. I think they have a great start, but I know they have a lot more they’re wanting to do. They are visible, but only because I know who they are. They don’t have any official uniforms to identify them as security. We’re looking into installing security cameras, too. It seems like people are becoming more willing to talk about security and to accept some things that probably would have been dismissed in the past. I actually took my concealed carry class at a church and now our church has just scheduled that instructor to teach classes at our church. I was shocked that that was accepted, but I don’t think anyone has fought against it.

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I am not bragging in any of this comment ! I have been communicating to my Pastor to establish a PLAN to

put a Security Team in place. I have had the opportunity to get USCCA material into the Pastor’s Staff’s

hands. Training is soon to be starting and I am on the bottom floor of that plan, but I am serving by Greeting,

Transportation from parking lot, and Situational Awareness. Many hours of training materials are being

looked at and maybe insurance will be established very soon. Their is a team to watch the exits and they

all know that I am armed too. I am not the only one, but my pastor knows fully about me.

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Has to be done. I brought it up at every chance I get. Important information: “Situational Awareness”. It must be

observed at all cost and it gets strange at time. I enjoy the books that you can read and train on. I ask

for everyone to do their best and may GOD be the Protector. I believe that HE can stop any issue here and

protect all of us.

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We do have a security team, and they’re present any time bodies are in the building.

We started small … setting expectations, basic security such as stay in your assigned areas, and protect children’s classrooms above all else, wear your radio, know the escape and assembly points, etc. It has grown to be the best-staffed ministry in our church. The team is excited, dedicated, and on-point. We’re in the process of adding security cameras now.

Roughly 20% of our security team carries concealed. It is neither required nor encouraged by the church, however we allow it.

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After Pittsburgh and now Poway, we’re getting a bit more serious about security at our own small synagogue in a small college town in the PNW. There was always a loose knit group of vets and CCW carriers, but it was not official or coordinated. Our president had what I thought was a wise policy — she did not ask about our activities nor mention them to the board or rabbi. We believe a public conversation would be extremely divisive and not productive, so for all intents and purposes we are simply members practicing our 2nd amendment rights.
After Poway, though, we’re stepping up our coordination. Publicly, there are efforts to have more greeters at the door; the sherif (who has been hugely supportive) will do more drive by’s during services; and people are trained to get congregants out quickly if need be.
Behind the scenes, our carry group will function more intentionally but still in the background. Our group has 2 questions though, and I though this would be precisely the place to broach them:

  1. The carry group will remain anonymous to the congregation, but if the synagogue covers our insurance or pays for training, do they incur liability if something happens?
  2. If there is a shooter, and the police arrive, what method do people use to help the police distinguish between the good guys and bad in the heat of the moment?
    Thanks in advance for any advice!
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@CascadiaNow, I"m on my way out the door and will respond more in detail when I get back, those are two great questions our church is wrestling with. Here is a “banner” Carl Chinn recommended at a talk he gave here in Colorado at a Safety in Faith workshop. You can get one that you just keep in your pocket or one that secures in a pouch to your belt. Then deploy them when starting to take action in an emergency.

https://shop.dsmsafety.com/SECURITY-BANNER-Hi-Viz-Green-Pocket-Option-SB-G13-Covert.htm

Edit to add: I can only speak to my church’s experience. We have church mutual. They are fine with off duty police, a certified security team, or even private congregants carrying concealed IF it is approved by the governing board of our church. If approved and then the proper paperwork submitted to our insurance company, they then insure those that are approved to carry. Our problem is getting the powers that be to understand it is a necessary item to put into place on our safety team.

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Welcome to the Community, @CascadiaNow!

The best advice I can give you on this one is to talk to an attorney in your area. The laws are so different from state to state and even city to city sometimes, that your best bet is to talk with an expert in the laws of your area. (If you’re a USCCA Member, I would suggest looking at the list of attorneys in your area to find one who is Second Amendment Friendly. Your Membership benefits will not be applicable in this situation, but you’ll find a great attorney near you on that list.)

Train, plan, train, plan. And communicate! Get to know your local law enforcement, train for the worst including being able to articulate which of your safety group has a weapon pulled and be able to describe them. Can they all have a specific color jacket on? Or tie? Or a shirt with a logo - something that is easily seen and identified?

Cooperate with the police. If it takes everyone who is involved in the incident being detained until they can sort out who is the aggressor, so be it. The minor inconvenience of being detained and your reaction to it will help identify who the “good guys” are.

What other tips do you all have for @CascadiaNow?

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I agree with @Dawn. Not only should you get the insurance issue and approval issue ironed out, but then train, train, train together as a team. Find a range or a business that trains safety teams to act as a cohesive unit. Just because people have their CCW doesn’t mean they will act properly in a situation were it to happen at your church.

We bring in our local PD to give lectures to our safety team and safety and security committee. They also don’t mind holding active shooter drills with our safety team, regardless of whether we carry concealed or not. We meet the officers that may respond to an issue at our church and they meet us. I am also thinking to invite the Sunday shift and any other officers that want to attend to a BBQ with our safety ministry on a Saturday afternoon so that they can see who we are and might recognize us in a situation once they respond.

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Good point, @Shepherd! Your local PD may be looking for a place to do some active shooter drills as well - you may be able to help each other out @CascadiaNow!

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These are terrific thoughts, @Dawn and @Shepherd – thanks so much for taking the time to reply!

@Dawn – Thanks for the suggestion to check the USCCA list for legal advice; I had not thought of that. Indeed, two of us are proud USCCA members and that was one of our suggestions, that everyone else join as well. I also love the idea of seeing if the police want to train at our synagogue – a win-win indeed!

@Shepherd – thanks for the link to the banners – that’s a good idea as well, and thanks in general for your support.

You both mention, “train, plan, train.” Agreed, and on it! Fortunately, there’s lots of public land near us so we can do much more than we might at a range.

Thanks again!

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It takes team work on every ones part. You have to plan, train, and know fully how your
team works. My church has children, teenagers, the working class, and hard working staff,
and the best, the Mature Class of ladies and gentlemen that are so warm and loving. There
is a lot of details to have security and with all the making of a successful security team.

I want to Thank the USCCA, the hard working educators, and for putting up with me to get
important information to my home church, Senior pastor, and Staff. It takes team work and
it is impossible for any one man to do this alone. Thank You.

Sincerely Yours,

William H Smith Jr

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I never really understood the 6th commandment. “Thou shall not kill”, or is it 'How shall not murder"? The second one makes more sense. If one translates the original word it is ‘murder’. If you are protecting yourself, or you family, in conflict (seems like the Israelis had a lot of conflicts), they did a lot of killing, none of these are considered ‘murder’. So why would people not encourage protection as described in the Bible?

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The actual translation is “Thou shalt not murder.” Self defense, righteous acts of war and so on were/are acceptable by God.

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Hey Kent, anyone who considers themselves a disciple of Christ or a Christian should struggle with the 6th commandment. In fact, I would throw that net out farther to include anyone who concealed carries. Life is precious. In our church, we view it this way: Our church mission is to lead people to Christ by providing them a safe place to explore his claims. Emphasis on safe place! Our armed volunteers are always our last option, but a nice option to have.

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So Paul. Another thing I don’t understand. Why is life precious if you believe in God and Jesus and the Bible touts that there is life after death. Besides there are 7 BILLION people in the world, there is over crowding, there are wars over water and territory (besides God regardless of what we call Him since none of us know what his name really is). I think MY life is precious because it’s mine, but being human and being selfish (and we all are whether we admit it or not) I think I’m special…although I’m probably not. Just saying. Guess I’ve gotten cynical in my old age after seeing the horrible things that humans do to animals and other humans. Frankly I think religion is a way to rein in our sociopathic tendencies.

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Was at some firearms training, mostly cops and active duty military. I struck up a conversation with a fellow student and he was the head of security at a very large evangelical church in #SOCA. The main pastor is famous and has his own radio show. I’ve gone to Church there a few times. The team consists of active/retired cops and military veterans-people he selected and trained who are also Church members. Many carry concealed. They are in casual attire during services and functions as are the church members. Church staff received death threats and required an armed body guard at times. This man had also established good relations with the local PD. We discussed threats, and just like I had seen, he agreed that religious services can attract the violent mentally ill. His team is also trained in hand to hand and control holds. At that time they had to go hands on with a few disruptive mentally ill to get them out of the church. No gun usage required yet. And yes, this guy could shoot!
I’m thinking training up Church Security teams could become a cottage industry for someone.

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