ABC’s of Church Safety
A Simple Plan to Increase Security for Your Church
At a very young age we learned how to recite the alphabet and the first letters we learned were most likely A, B, C. We probably thought it was difficult to remember then, but the more we practiced, the easier it got. Church safety and security doesn’t have to be difficult either, even though it may seem like it is at first. All you have to do is have a starting point and work from there, the rest will come fairly easily with repetition and practice. Today we want to get you started on a simple path to church safety by presenting you with the ABC’s.
A – Access Points
B – Build Plans
C – Communicate
Access Points are one of the most difficult areas to secure at a place of worship because of the belief doors should be open for any and all visitors who wish to worship. Unfortunately, not everyone has the same agenda and leaving unnecessary doors open, can be a security risk. To better prevent an incident from occurring and increase your church safety, lock all non-essential doors. For example during services, only have front doors and handicap accessible doors open to the congregation. Doors near children or other areas of the church should be secured from the outside. Place greeters at the entrances of open doors to speak with visitors as they arrive and watch for unusual behavior.
During non-service times, lock all access points from the outside and utilize a buzzer system for visitors that need assistance. This not only keeps your church property safe, but also protects your employees and volunteers.
Plans are a necessary blue print for how you should respond to a situation; without plans, confusion and chaos are likely to happen. Increase your church safety by building response plans for all events that could potentially happen at your place of worship. For example, you should have active fire plans in place, along with emergency plans in the event of a violent intruder and also plans for large concerts, holiday events, or gatherings that may take place at your church. Response Plans are an essential part to the church safety and security process. Building effective plans comes from a continual cycle of writing plans, training your safety team on them, having drills for each one, and revising as needed. If you are not sure where to start, contact your local law enforcement and fire first responders for help with building effective response plans for your specific place of worship.
Communication is a key element that is often overlooked when it comes to emergency planning and preparedness. Individuals are generally too focused on writing plans and developing and executing drills that they forget the critical aspect of communication that rounds out their safety and security. Effective communication can increase response time and decrease errors and oversights. When it comes to emergency preparedness, don’t let it be a secret. Take the time to inform your congregation of some safety features and plans that you have in place to ensure their protection against unforeseen circumstances. Also consider asking your staff and volunteers their opinion on different aspects of safety that they feel should be addressed. They may suggest something that you didn’t think about or offer insight to a problem you are not aware of.
Place of worship safety and security can seem overwhelming when you are looking for solutions to your potential areas of vulnerability, but by starting with the basics, you can build a strong foundation of safety. Start by increasing security around your access points, build effective plans to use in the event of an emergency and communicate often with first responders, safety team members and your congregation. Church security doesn’t have to be difficult, it can be as easy as A, B, C.