Holy Week is almost here and people will be flocking churches and other religious gatherings to commemorate the sacrifices of Jesus Christ. With the recent attacks on such religious institutions, one could not help but wonder if they are completely safe and if there’s a way to prevent any more church shootings. Fortunately there are things you and the community can do to keep everyone safe.
After the Texas church shooting in 2017, the American Pastors Network came up with a list of recommendations which churches can adopt to keep their congregation safe from church shootings and other forms of violence.
Understand the Biblical and Moral Responsibility of Safety
Since we’re talking about religious institutions here, it should be expected that this list of recommendations is rooted in their faith.
The APN defined the role of the church leaders in keeping the congregation safe. Simply put, it is the duty of the church leader to protect the people from any kind of harm, particularly church shooting.
Develop and Train A Security Team
Identify who among your congregation are trained in law enforcement and in medicine. Some of them may even be current or former members of the military or have background in security.
Ask these people to make up your church’s security team. They’ll be the ones in charge of keeping the place secure from a possible church shooting.
Of course, you can also get staff and volunteers even if they don’t have any background or training. You do have to train them in identifying potential threats and taking down the perpetrator.
Perform A Risk Assessment
Take some time to assess the area in and around the church. Identify specific areas that need to be fortified or places that need to have security beefed up. An example of these vulnerable spots is the areas where a shooter may gain entry without being detected.
Implement Security Protocols
The APN advises churches to lock their doors once the service starts. A particular person or persons will be in charge of closing and locking the door to keep anyone with the intention to harm from entering the premises. They will be in charge of the keys. Ideally, they are also the ones tasked with protecting the main entrance. Other members of the church’s security team shall be posted at other entrances.
Install Security Cameras
Every church should have its own security camera system. This way, you can spot and neutralize a threat before they can hurt anyone. Security cameras will also be useful in documenting incidents and thwarting petty crimes.
Establish A Medical Response Team
We’ve mentioned earlier that the church should also identify people with medical background. These members of the church shall make up the medical response team. In the event of a church shooting or an accident, the team will provide first aid until the paramedics arrive.
Evaluate the Legal Parameters for Security Measures
You can’t simply put up your security measures without consulting the local authority. Aside from determining the legalities, the church should also look into liability assessment and insurance requirements.
Create An Evacuation Plan
Most people don’t know what to do and where to go if their church is attacked. Create an evacuation plan to avoid such issue. Identify all the exits and make sure there are no obstructions leading to them. Make sure he exits lead to a safe and concealed place.
Designate a place where everyone will convene after evacuating the church. Practice your evacuation plan every now and then so the congregation will know what exactly they should do during a church shooting or other emergencies.
Involve Local Law Enforcement in the Security Plan
Coordinate with the local authorities in conceptualizing your security plan, especially if you don’t have an expert or someone knowledgeable in your group. If you have a security plan in place, inform the police about it. If possible, arrange a meeting with them so they can give their professional opinion on your plan.
Communicate the New or Existing Security Measures with the Congregation
Make sure everyone in your congregation knows about your security and evacuation plans. Don’t forget to inform any new member of your group.
Aside from the ten recommendations from the APN, there are other ways you can keep everyone safe from a church shooting. One is to have a way for the security team to communicate and coordinate with each other. Two-way radios will be useful in this regard.
Another, which may be a topic for debate among the congregation, is guns. Some churches have taken to keeping guns in their place of worship. There are even some which had signs outside the church saying they are armed and ready to fight.
If you have other suggestions on how to prevent church shooting and other forms of violence, please share them in the comment section. Visit The Gentleman Pirate as well for more tips and tricks that could spell the difference between life and death.
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