How to Prevent Crime at Churches

Do security guards actually prevent crime at churches? This a question that has been asked by many. A short answer to this question: crime is less likely to happen where criminals feel there is law enforcement or security on the premises – you can do your research here and check stats; most of the churches attacked did not have a security team or police officers on the property.

Crime at churches often occur when there is absolutely no protection on site. The last thing people want to believe is that someone would attack church goers but the sad reality is, crime is everywhere and occurs any time, at any location – and yes, even on church grounds.

According to Noelle Swan, in the past 15 years, more than 781 deadly attacks have occurred in the United States in places of worship. Vehicles are being burglarized in church parking lots; church members are being targeted and robbed, and worshippers are being murdered during services.

Man with a Shotgun Kicks in Church Door (see video):

Some churches have decided to get their congregation involved and establish a safety ministry to act as lookouts for suspicious individuals entering the property. They’ve also asked any off-duty police officers who are members to help out and volunteer to protect the members and visitors. The ministry has meetings to discuss safety precautions in the event they are attacked and have to react without law enforcement on site.

Prevent Church Crime16 Ways to Help Prevent Crime at Churches

***Conduct a security risk analysis prior to purchasing security equipment. Often equipment is purchased and installed only to discover that it does not meet expected needs or solve the problems since needs and problems were never identified and properly assessed in the first place.

  1. Following a security risk analysis, form a safety and security committee and select a chairperson to provide leadership.
  2. Train ushers, greeters and other key volunteers to recognize, report and respond to suspicious activity or a security or safety incident.
  3. One or more trained persons from the safety security committee should remain posted at designated areas to observe people exiting cars and walking towards the church. Part of training is to be observant for signs of stress or suspicious actions.
  4. An emergency plan should be developed and tested annually in response to any natural or man-made disaster that could occur in your area. Include Fire, Police and/or EMS in annual testing and formulating plans. This requires work but there are many inexpensive books and free government publications available to assist with emergency planning.
  5. Review outdoor lighting to make sure it is sufficient.
  6. Maintain plants and shrubbery low to the ground to reduce hiding places.
  7. When opening and closing your church facility, pay close attention to your surroundings and be extra careful. Depending on your environment, time of day and other activities occurring in the nearby area, you may want to implement opening and closing procedures.
  8. A well thought-out and installed burglar alarm and fire alarm system will help protect church assets.
  9. Ensure that a process exists to release children to parents or authorized adults.
  10. Perform background checks on both volunteers and paid staff that have responsibility for children. There should be no exception for this rule where responsibility for children exits.
  11. Conduct background checks on all the safety security team regardless of involvement with children.
  12. Personnel records and other sensitive information must protected from unauthorized access.
  13. Two people should remain present from time funds are collected until counted and stored. Key control for essential doors and containers for valuables must be managed.
  14. Major or expensive assets should be marked in case of theft and inventoried at least annually.
  15. Be proactive and observant for safety violations such as exposed wiring, locks that don’t work and cleaning chemicals that are not stored properly. Safety and security go hand-in-hand.
  16. The most important strategy or action that can be taken to prevent security incidents is to increase security awareness with all members. Courtesy of Jim McGuffey and Church Security Consultant.com

Church security AustinChurch Security Guards Can Help Reduce Crime

The above may be a tall order for some churches; to add, the average person does not have the level of training needed to guard a facility and people. It’s a great strategy to impose safety precautions but churches should go a step further and either get their safety ministry professionally trained to handle crime on their church grounds or outright hire security officers and take the stress off the congregation as a whole.

Being on the “look-out” for criminals is one thing, but what happens when three or more criminals are attacking a church at one time? Most church goers are not trained for that type of occurrence and are not armed to handle active shooters on the property.

Churches should involve their members and educate them about safety but they should also include a security training program that keeps them on top of their game in the event that a crime does break out on church grounds.

No one wants to think of this worst case scenario but again, it happens and more often than you think. Question –Security guards: Do they prevent crime at churches? Answer – Absolutely! They not only prevent crime at churches, they take the stress off the church members having to worry about their safety or lack thereof.

To consult with a security expert regarding the matter, click here.

April 17th, 2015 by