God, guns and keeping Christians safe
At many Churches of Christ across the nation, Christians bring…
1. Develop an emergency response plan.
An emergency response plan should include:
• Inclement weather
• Active shooter
• Bomb threat
• Fire safety and evacuation procedures
• Security team and command center
• Marked safety shelters
• Protection of church property against theft and vandalism
• Building lock-down
• Response to burglary and fire alarms
• Assistance with medical emergencies
3. Establish safety zones.
Establish safety zones limiting access to church administration and ministry offices. This can be accomplished with access control systems and/or tracking of church building/room keys.
Develop guidelines for dealing with registered sex offenders. Mostly by limiting access to children and youths including classes, mission trips and other church-sponsored events.
5. Establish a criminal background screening program.
Background screening should be conducted on all employees in accordance with the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA). Also, background screening should include volunteers that:
• Supervise or teach children or youths
• Are in a pastoral or counseling role
• Tasked with financial stewardship responsibilities
• Small group leaders and those who conduct in-home events
Background screening should be conducted by a licensed professional investigation company.
7. Consider a surveillance system to monitor church buildings/premises.
Install video surveillance system to monitor entrance and exits of church buildings, parking lots and points of interest. Video surveillance should be monitored by authorized security officers or members of security team.
8. Provide adequate lighting and a safe environment.
Churches are expected to provide a safe environment for people to work, attend and assemble. Failure to provide adequate lighting is the most common liability risk churches assume. Enhanced lighting reduces the risk of slip and falls, criminal activity and theft of property. (Inmates interviewed in jail state that poorly lit areas are their first choice for criminal activity.)
Churches strive to provide an open and inviting venue for people to study God’s word and seek his kingdom. The task of providing a safe environment and securing church campuses is difficult. The tips and consideration provided above are intended to provide church organizations with guidelines and practices for church leadership, and does not include all aspects of church security and risk management.
Brent Sandlin serves as president and CEO of First Security Systems in Hurst, Texas. The licensed security company and investigation agency has served churches and nonprofit organizations since 1999. Sandlin can be reached at [email protected].
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