When pastors and church leaders who are new to the idea of church security first begin to consider building a volunteer security team, often they feel somewhat overwhelmed.
It is easy to imagine huge expenses, a complete disruption to existing procedures, complicated equipment—-and if the church is outsourcing for some of its protection—-intimidating individuals in uniform who are strangers to the congregation.
While creating and building a security team from your existing congregation is a big task; it is manageable. Furthermore, if security is seen as another ministry, this can become an exciting undertaking that will ultimately make a church family grow even closer.
This list is by no means exhaustive; however these are three of the most important concepts for a church to consider when building an in-house security team:
1) Pastoral and Church Support.
It is inevitable that there will be resistance and possible resentment when the security team is implemented. There are numerous reasons for this, however, if the director of security works closely with the church to minimize church flow disruptions, this will assure a smoother implementation and execution in assimilating the new team within the church.
Here are several ways that a church can actively support their security team:
+Make security a church-wide affair.
If the pastor makes a church wide announcement that a team is being created, and while asking for volunteers, also communicates a process for airing any possible concerns. This will demonstrate to the church that the leadership team is committed to the security team, while inviting the congregation to air any concerns. Since there is plenty of Scripture which supports the role of a security team, reading these verses can also help to emphasize that security is indeed a ministry and is Biblical.
+Set realistic expectations of Security Team members.
Explain their role to your congregation. The pastor should also let everyone know that officers (trained, volunteer members of the security team) have specific jobs and to respect that. A person with no security background might see an officer is just standing around and ask her to help carry something, go get someone etc. When an officer says no, this can create dissention based on a misunderstanding. If the church is reminded that they would not ask a child care worker to leave the kids to go help put up chairs, they can see that asking an on-duty officer to help with a non-security related task is just as inappropriate.
+Routine documentation and meetings.
The entire security team should meet with the church staff at least every three months to review and update procedures and discuss any issues. The director should submit a short report after every service to the pastor to keep him or her appraised of any issues or concerns. All situations, no matter how seemingly trivial, should be documented in a security report, which should be forwarded to the pastor and kept in an updated and secure security file. Regular meetings with the director of security and staff and well-written reports will help create a sense of unity and support between all parties.
2) Minimal Church Flow Disruptions.
Church flow is the existing processes and procedures in all areas of the church, to include the roles of all church personnel, staff and volunteers. While there will be changes as a result of implementing a security team, the church flow should be impacted as minimally as possible. The following is a list of suggestions to meet this goal:
+The security team should always meet at least thirty-five minutes before service. During this time, zones are assigned, pertinent information is passed on and radio checks are performed. The director should also advise the team of any special events, circumstances or possible threats.
+Security officers must know radio procedures, all of the assigned security zones and have a clear understanding of their roles and responsibly within their assigned zone.
+All security members should be aware that they are not expected to know everything, but they are expected to know who to go to for answers and who to direct the congregation to if a question or task falls outside the purview of security and safety considerations.
+Security officers must know when to use officer discretion and when to follow mandated orders and procedures. If a new and/or inexperienced officer begins to make unilateral decisions, this can lead to a breakdown in systems.
Certainly, in a crisis or active situation, an officer must take command and control of the situation and changes will be implemented. However, for common events, if an officer believes an existing procedure needs to be modified, a memo should be drafted and submitted to the director and the chain of command should be followed.
3) Proper Training.
It is natural when envisioning a new security team to think about the most extreme threats, ranging from child predators to active shooters.
Yet, as many security teams quickly find out, even the most mundane things can tie up too many resources if protocol is not followed. In addition, there needs to be some formal training that includes physical role-playing and crisis rehearsal.
Crisis rehearsal includes mental and physical preparation. It is the act of practicing, rehearsing and role-playing out security situations, ranging from the minor to the most dangerous, in great detail, repeatedly, and always with positive results.
Along with role play and rehearsal, an officer should be encouraged to mentally rehearse these situations and their training.
If an individual is trying to access an area of the church he does not belong, or begins to get disruptive in service, officers will likely have to go hands-on for the safety of the congregation. Hands-on means using the proper use of force to remove or subdue the subject until the police arrive.
Certainly, a trained and qualified street self-defense expert should train the team in verbal commands and pain-compliance techniques (using pain to direct a subject to comply with your commands) and restraining techniques. A restraining technique holds the combative subject in a neutral position until they agree to stop fighting or until the police arrive. Officers must understand the legal and medical implications of going hands-on, in addition to the proper and accepted use of force continuum. This is why training with a highly-qualified individual must be seen as a critical part of this ministry.
Training also needs to include routine situations, such as a child who has locked himself in the restroom, or a person that is overwhelmed with emotion and needs to be taken to a separate room.
Officers must also role play out their expected duties such as escorting the ushers who have taken up the offering, perimeter checks and if the pastor is escorted before or after service.
An officer will always revert to their training in a true crisis. For the safety of everyone in a dangerous situation and for the good of the church in routine situations, officers must have had the proper training so they can perform their jobs with maximum efficiency and minimal hesitation, regardless if it is routine or extreme.