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How to Improve Church Building Security: Develop a Plan

Church security is something that all churches and any other place of worship should be thinking about. We perceive most churches as safe, yet, because they are so large and public, they are vulnerable. Unfortunately, many churches don't think about security until it's too late. Developing a plan is the first step in protecting your church from potential threats. In this blog post, we will discuss some things to consider when developing your church security plan.

crime scene

Risk assessment for church security

The first thing you need to do is assess the risks. What are the potential threats to your church? This will help you determine what measures need to be put in place. Some common risks include:

  • Violent crime
  • Property crimes
  • Natural disasters
  • Terrorism

The level of detail in your risk assessment should be proportional to the danger to your church. This implies that for a small church with few risks, a quick risk assessment can be made based on informed opinion and reference to relevant information. Small churches are generally made up of a small structure, are located in the countryside, have a small congregation, and host regular church activities like weekend services and perhaps a few community fundraising endeavors.

On the other hand, a large church may have very active or larger buildings and involves many employees, volunteers and visitors, have multiple entrances and needs a wider coverage. A risk assessment should be looking for vulnerabilities in your security.

The objective of completing risk assessments isn't to generate a lot of paperwork - it's about identifying prudent precautions you should take for your church. Of course, completing risk assessments on their own won't prevent accidents from happening. You must take the precautions you have identified as necessary. Once you have assessed the risks, you can start.

Benefits of Church Security System

A security system can have many benefits, which means that an appropriate security system can prevent a number of tragedies.

It can prevent theft and vandalism. A Security system for your church can help spot a break in or any other emergency before too much damage is done.

Surveillance. Indoor and outdoor security cameras can detect intruders as well as monitor vulnerable places to guarantee the safety and well-being of your congregation's members.

Protect Church Property

Some churches have irreplaceable items, such as priceless art or valuable antiques, that they utilize or display during services. In certain situations, these items are irreplaceable. A security system can deter theft from intruders.

security system

Take care of your congregation

A security system for your church that includes fire alarms and carbon monoxide detectors can protect your church building as well as the people inside it.

Alert authorities

 Sensors, alarms, and cameras in your church security system can signal you if there is a problem and allow the monitoring station to dispatch authorities sooner, preventing loss of property or harm

law enforcement

What building security systems could your church benefit from having

Several types of security could be essential for your church. A security team, video surveillance, security systems, private and public WiFi, and two-way radios could all be useful and should be included in your plan.

Access Control Systems

For a larger church with multiple entrance points, you might consider an access control system. A property manager can monitor it remotely and be notified if there's any suspicious people on the property.

access control

Install Security Cameras 

You'll receive more than just security with a surveillance system for your church. You'll get the bonus of ensuring the safety of church members while they're on church property. Having church security cameras may make members feel safer volunteering and congregating outside of regular hours of service, whether it's for bible study, Sunday school, services, or nursery school. Plus, you can check footage anytime with remote access.

security camara

Door Alarms and Sensors

Alarms and sensors should be included in church security systems, and they will notify you if someone is on the premises or performing suspicious activities. Many security systems include doors that may be armed remotely, so you don't have to worry about forgetting to close the door.

Fire Alarms, Flood Sensors, and Carbon Monoxide Detectors

These security measures can be integrated into your church security system, and provide time to alert the authorities as soon as the unusual activity is detected, potentially helping protect church property from irreparable damage.

fire alarm

Professional Monitoring Service

A monitoring service ensures someone will notice if there's any suspicious activity at your church. You could self-monitor your system, but you can't be available 24/7 if you’re self monitoring, which is exactly the point of a paid monitoring service. Responding to alarms being triggered no matter the time and alerting authorities.

professional monitoring

Patrol Staff

The church parking lot and the building's perimeter should be patrolled during Sunday services, classes, and events. They can monitor areas that may be more vulnerable. This is to protect your congregation while they're inside the church. From the outside, only one entry should be accessible, though every entrance should be unlocked from the inside, with someone nearby in case of emergency.

Two-way radios and communication tools

Most people have cell phones, that much is true, but cell service isn't always reliable. The best way of making sure patrol members can always communicate with each other is to give each one a two-way radio. Additionally, other church employees such as ushers and office staff should have their radio, as well as daycare staff to keep the children safe, that way in case of an emergency, they can easily get in touch with security. Despite the radio, you should still make sure everybody's contact information is up to date.

two way radio

Create a church security plan

Make sure you have a plan in place in case of an emergency. This should be a supplement to your security system.

First Step: Determine the purpose

This has to do with your risk assessment, you can't protect your church if you're not sure what you're protecting it against. Discuss the risks you face as well as possible measures of protection.

Second Step: Make security policies

The best way of ensuring everybody on your staff knows how to react in case of an emergency is to have procedures in place for them to follow. This will allow you to train staff step by step.

Third Step: Cooperation with local law enforcement

Ideally, your strategy would include law enforcement. With everybody on the same page, security procedures and emergency plans can be better executed.

Fourth Step: Train church leaders

If they don't know how to respond in case of an emergency, the plan will fail. Allow them to lead by example by making sure they know the plan and can help follow the procedures in place, thus making sure everybody is safe.

Fifth Step: Build a patrolling staff

Having security personnel cover the church sectors may help guarantee that everyone is following safety regulations. This begins on the external perimeter, and the parking lots continues along the exterior of all building walls and concludes on the interior perimeter. Creating concentric circles of security, making the church a harder target.

Sixth Step: Train your security team

Your team can use the training to run through various mock emergencies, bringing out any weak points in the plan so that they can be corrected. It, of course, also ensures everybody knows the plan by heart.

It might come as a surprise to some, but theft, violence, and threats against religious institutions are all too common at faith-based groups throughout the world, therefore today's congregations must be prepared. Being proactive about church security is a good method to safeguard your congregation and its assets.

A church is meant to be a safe and welcoming environment, where the congregation should feel at peace, but that doesn't mean it can't be a target or be vulnerable to other risks like fires and flooding. You can keep your church or place of worship safe by having a robust security system, and doing your best to ensure that, if an emergency were to occur, everybody is protected. Make a plan and follow it.

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