Church Shootings – A Dangerous World We Live In
Our places of worship are supposed to be sanctuaries where we feel safe and secure, but with the recent high-profile church shootings in Texas, South Carolina, and Pennsylvania, to name a few, it’s becoming alarmingly commonplace that this isn’t always the case. And the violence isn’t contained to one denomination, as the shootings occurred across many and no religion is immune. We must not become complacent and just accept that our most hallowed institutions are just another casualty of this insidious problem.
So, what should be the plan of action to protect our churches and their parishioners from church shootings such as these? As most churches cannot afford to hire their own trained security team, the sensible option is to turn to members of the congregation to volunteer with various aspects of the church’s security plan.
The volunteer program must have a chain of command and a clear set of standards should be developed immediately. If there is a member who is currently employed by law enforcement, they would be an excellent individual to oversee the team. Not only could this person provide specialized and expert support, they would have the close relationship with local law enforcement that is crucial to the success of the volunteer program and in enhancing the church’s safety.
The first step for the volunteers is to determine a security plan and perform a risk assessment of the vulnerabilities of the church structure itself. It is of the utmost importance to establish a set of standardized procedures and strict rules for this program. There must be procedures in place for all church services and events to discourage any kind of church shootings like the ones mentioned. Doors should be secured during services and the addition of security cameras throughout the building should be mandatory. Individuals in the volunteer group could monitor the cameras once the service or event has started.
All the members, along with staff and the leaders of the church should be trained in what to do if there is an active shooter situation inside their place of worship. It’s akin to having fire drills and knowing what to do in any emergency, such as what the evacuation routes are. Teach the people that are manning the daycare center during the services how to lock and secure their rooms. Run drills of mock active shooter scenarios for all members of the congregation.
Some of the members must be willing to be trained by a certified firearms instructor. The shooter only needs mere seconds to create complete havoc, so an armed volunteer is likely the best defense against a madman with a gun. Not everyone is going to feel comfortable with a firearm, so it’s a good idea to require psychological testing to any member of the volunteer team who is willing to undergo the firearm training. This volunteer program can only be successful with the proper training, so a close connection to and proper active shooter training with local law enforcement is paramount.
These armed parishioners would blend in during church services and not present themselves as security guards. They should be wearing civilian clothes and carrying concealed weapons. This team may make some of the other worshippers uneasy, so open lines of communication and details of the security action plan must be discussed with the entire congregation and agreed upon by all parties. This set of volunteers is there for the safety and security of all the church’s members, not to cause more panic or stress.
The success of a program such as this one is dependent upon the right leadership, a clear set of goals, and the strict adherence to the rules and regulations by every team member and parishioner.
Contact us now and we can assist you with establishing a security plan for your church.