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PROTECTING GOD’S PEOPLE: Security for Places of Worship

If a violent incident were to take place in your church, during a time when many people are gathered, how quickly could you warn EVERYONE that there was a threat inside the church?

Churches and other places of worship naturally place great emphasis on creating an open and welcoming environment.

Unfortunately, this can sometimes lead a church to neglect security, which leaves them vulnerable to acts of vandalism or theft. A properly installed church video surveillance system can help to create a safe and secure environment for congregations and the people they serve.

An Accra Circuit Court in July sentenced Charles Antwi, the man who took a double barrel gun to the Ring Road Assemblies of God Church where President John Dramani Mahama worships, to 10 years imprisonment. He pleaded guilty to possessing firearms without lawful authority.

We have interviewed a variety of experts on church security in order to better equip church leaders with the information, statistics and action plans necessary to protect their congregants. As a result, we have identified six critical areas for security in today’s churches:

• Background Checks
when someone joins the church as a member do not hesitate to do a background check.

• Check-in System
A secure check-in system for children & events heads off many issues, especially with policies that ensure child-pick up occurs only with a matching tag. A good check-in system allows administrators to know exactly where every child is at any given time.

• Aggressive Friendliness
Training key people— often members of a security team—in de-escalation techniques aimed at gently confronting suspicious or hostile individuals in a non-threatening way.

• Emergency Action Plan
There are many types of emergencies: medical issues, power outage, bomb threat, fire, or intruders. “Most churches wait for something to happen, It is critical to have a plan for different scenarios before something tragic happens.

• Triage/Medical Teams
By creating small volunteer teams of doctors, nurses and paramedics, every church can help with minor incidents and provide critical triage care prior to the arrival of paramedics, fire or police. We advise that churches can be liable if something goes wrong, so it’s important to have clearly defined policies in place.

• Communications
“Simple two-way radios are the most effective way to share information and coordinate people during emergencies,” They’re better than cell phones that depend on coverage and up-to-date numbers. The emergency response teams should have a clear command structure, knowing who will be responsible for communicating with teams throughout the facility. In large churches, it is important to have specific “zones” identified so that each team knows the specific evacuation plans or, in certain situations, lock-down protocols to keep people safe.

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