Two important elements of securing the people and property of your church are video surveillance and access control.
Martin Sinderman · November 12, 2017
Do Your Research First
Baptist Church in Belton, Texas installed their video surveillance system themselves. “Nothing against professional installers; if you need them, use them,” says Nathan Parr, operations manager at this 2,000-member, 115,000-square-foot church. But if they are in a state that allows self-installation of a video surveillance system (some don’t), “Churches and their memberships are more than capable of doing it themselves,”
Parr notes, adding that “Reputable companies that supply system components will provide you with all the support you need to help get up and running.” First Baptist Belton monitors all interior spaces within its facility, “at a level in which you cannot enter, or move around anywhere in the building, without being monitored at some point,” says Parr. Its 54-camera array, associated hardware and software are all products from Video Insight, a unit of global electronics giant Panasonic.
When determining where to install cameras, “Our philosophy is to think like a ‘bad guy’ and figure out where he would want to hide – and then make sure you have a camera pointed there,” says Parr. Surveillance video is primarily used in a passive manner, reviewed as necessary, according to Parr. But it can also be used actively, such as in instances where an individual is being tracked, he notes.
For example, “One of the coolest instances of using cameras was when one of our senior adults, with early-onset dementia, left the building one morning,” Parr recounts. “Using cameras, we were able to isolate which door they left through (the facility has 36) and ascertain which direction she went.”
Churches looking for the equipment they need to implement and/or improve video surveillance systems have a couple of major resources to turn to for information, notes Parr. “Your research should start with security industry publications, like Security Today to find out about industry trends, and what ‘the next big thing’ is,” Parr explains.
He cites Worship Facilities Expo (WFX), as another place to get the latest info on products and services; and from there, “It’s mainly a matter of installing something that can be built upon and improved in the future.”
About Access Control …
Along with video surveillance, controlling access – and keeping track of who has the keys to what, either to your entire facility or any of its components – is another important part of the church security mix.