Controlling Access Points for a Place of Worship
Keep Visitors Safe While Providing an Open Atmosphere
Access points are the final building barrier for guests to pass through to reach your place of worship. They can sometimes be overlooked as a precaution to unsafe situations. Places of worship have a more difficult time securing access points because many of them keep their doors open to the public. Including doors and windows, do you know how many access points you have? What measures do you have in place to limit them if needed? These are good questions to ask yourself. Although you are trying to create a welcoming environment for your congregation and guests, you must also realize how leaving access points wide open can cause safety risks. Keep these tips in mind while balancing safety and a welcoming environment.
Cameras are one of the most convenient and effective methods of security, especially for a place of worship. When located correctly, cameras can help deter criminal activity, and can help to identify people if the need arose. Cameras are most effective when placed at front and back doors and areas that lead to where the children are located during service times. You may also consider installing cameras in front of important offices and where money is stored. Cameras should always be positioned in a way that gets an image of a person’s entire body, this is especially important if you ever need to identify suspects.
Since places of worship differ greatly from schools and stores, having someone watch the live video cameras daily is difficult, but by periodically checking the surveillance every couple of weeks, and especially focusing on times when services are not going on, can give you a good idea of how secure your access points are. If you notice people roaming around at odd times, you may consider other alternatives to securing your access points. It is important to know who is accessing your place of worship and where they are going once they are in the building.
Another option to access point security is installing motion lights for areas that are not high traffic. Some areas of your place of worship may not need to be used all the time. For instance, you may only need the classrooms on Sunday mornings, if this is the case, keeping the lights on throughout the week is wasting money and electricity, but keeping them off invites unwelcome safety concerns. In this case, it may be beneficial to install motion activated lights. These not only cut costs of electricity, but it lessens the likelihood of an incident occurring. These lights also give a visual indicator when someone is in that particular area.
Human contact is probably your most beneficial source of safety. If you have a safety team implemented for your place of worship, designate a couple of the team members to man the most high traffic access points. These individuals know the security procedures for your place of worship and can be watching those entering and exiting for suspicious behavior, and ensure that people are welcomed to a safe and serene environment.
Although it is impossible to be everywhere at once to ensure that safety of your place of worship, there are precautions that you can take to alleviate some stress. By installing cameras, checking them every couple of weeks, installing and utilizing motion censored lights in less used areas, and strategically placing members of your security team, you are well on your way to a safer and more secure place of worship that your congregation can feel welcomed and protected.