Houston Houses Of Worship Struggle To Stay Welcoming, With An Eye On Security
Since the Sutherland Springs tragedy, people have been questioning if more could be done to protect churches. But, some places of worship already have security measures in place, which evolved from a history of being targeted.
Congregants gathered for Friday prayer, at the River Oaks Islamic Center. Over a hundred pairs of shoes, from cowboy boots to Birkenstock’s, were neatly lined up along the wall. After prayers, many congregants wrote out cards of solidarity and condolence, for the victims of the First Baptist Church shooting in Sutherland Springs. More…
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Church Security: What is YOUR plan?
After every mass shooting, the experts come out and provide news outlets with their opinions on everything from gun control to background checks to police response. The news media does not, however, provide any insight into how things could have been done differently to save lives. Those decisions are left to the local community with little direction on where to obtain information. Church security training is necessary in today’s world and it starts with a thorough plan.
In my security career of over 40 years I have learned many things about the difference between the knowledge of risks versus how to prepare and plan accordingly. Whether it is a church, an office building, a school or a nightclub, there are basic approaches to plan development. What differentiates security planning for a church or school is the varied age groups, the location where people are known to gather, and the fact that people in these environments are very unassuming. Who would shoot a church or school full of kids and adults? This is not predictable and, for that reason, an emergency plan is suggested.
I use the term “suggested” because there are no standards as to what a security plan contains or how to approach it. The security planning must be specific to both the environment (church or school) and the intricacies of building layouts. For some there are large campuses of a multitude of buildings that need individual plans but ultimately there needs to be a method for notifying everyone of a particular danger.
A security assessment of a church begins with meeting the decision makers to best understand their concerns. This expands to others within the organization who are the line staff to understand their concerns. Decision makers don’t always know specific fears or observed dangers of others. That is where the process begins: conversation.
Security and safety planning does have methodology but the experienced security consultant knows to look for things that are not in place that could bolster security. It simply takes a fresh look to see things through a different lens. A fear of many who are considering security planning by an outside consultant is that the consultant will make recommendations that are complex, expensive, and the solutions may not be as transparent. That is not how I conduct assessments. My corporate experience taught me that simple programs last longer and are easy to update.
A church may want to expand their security training to include defensive tactics by armed volunteers. This aspect is where there is overlap between the assessment findings and planning the proper armed training. An aspect that is rarely considered in planning is the liability of armed staff or volunteers. This requires involvement of legal counsel to understand the path that is being taken. This is truly a holistic approach.
Firearm training should be conducted by licensed trainers. However, there is a wide difference between shooting at paper targets on a range and implementing an active shooter protocol within your own buildings. Learning when to move and when to stay put is very important. Learning where to move is even more important! Those skills can only be applied within your own facility. That is our approach. Is this with live ammunition? No. But even with training-firearms, you will learn a great deal regarding defensive positions and emergency evacuation.
LPT Security Consulting and ISI Training Center (see a list of their clients) are both licensed providers that can provide the best of both worlds to help your church or school gain new insight and new skills. Our mission is critical to saving lives and we will provide the resources that allows you to accomplish that.
Call us if you’d like to discuss our church security planning and firearm training. We are more than happy to help. We are based in Houston, Texas.
713-899-2402 or email firstname.lastname@example.org