Church Security: What Steps Can Your Church Take Today?
By: Sherri Gragg
Each year, Peggy Miller, Managing Accountant and Statistician for the Texas Annual Conference, works to provide an enrichment opportunity for church administrators during Annual Conference. This past May, she offered a church security seminar. More than 100 people attended the event, prompting her to offer additional security training this autumn in the Central South District with professional church security consultant, Glen Evans.
According to Miller, Evans insists that every church, no matter its size, can take practical steps to create a safer worship environment. What can your church do today?
1. Create a security team and train them.
This step can be as simple as forming a group of volunteers in which each person knows his or her role in case of an emergency. Calm leadership saves lives when emotions are high.
2. Discover the power of de-escalation.
It is human nature to respond angrily when confronted with an angry, perhaps violent, individual but in order to stabilize the situation, it is essential to remain calm. It is also possible to help de-escalate the situation by helping the angry person feel they are heard and understood by nodding one’s head while they are speaking or using reassuring phrases such as, “Let’s talk about this.”
3. Partner with local law enforcement agencies.
Local sheriff or police departments are often willing to complete a free security assessment upon request. Homeland security also offers great resources online. Additionally, it is important to know who exactly to call in case of an emergency.
4. Pay attention to your exits.
Ensure all doors open from the inside, even when locked from the outside. Keep the majority of exterior doors secure when worshippers are present, except for the ones manned by greeters. Keep exits clear at all times.
5. Take advantage of readily available security resources.
Miller hopes to offer additional church security seminars throughout the Conference, but churches can also strengthen security by sharing best practices with each other. One of the seminar attendees, the Rev. Jack Vaughan, St. Luke’s UMC, Houston, noted that there are an abundance of resources on-line, many of them free. “Many churches have posted their security plans on-line for the taking, including plan templates and step-by-step guides.” Vaughan said.