The Harrisonville, Missouri police department is offering free security training to churches in the area Dec. 7 at 7 p.m. at the police department, Department leaders said they decided to do this following the Sutherland Springs, Texas Church shooting. 26 people were killed in that incident. Harrisonville officers will do active shooter response training with local clergy and church affiliates. If your church is interested in sending volunteers to the free course, contact Detective Sheppard at CSheppard@Harrisonville.com with the number of attendees. They ask you only send a few representatives, so they can have enough space for as many churches as possible.
Here are 10 recommendations for churches to consider when it comes to the important matter of church safety.
- Understand the biblical and moral responsibility of safety. It is the duty of pastors and church leadership to do all they can to protect the lives of those in the congregation.
- Develop and train a security team. Dedicate certain individuals, whether staff or volunteers, to undertake the important issue of safety. Train these personnel how to identify potential threats and how to de-escalate potential threat situations. During services or functions, outfit the team in plain clothes.
- Perform a risk assessment. Where is the church vulnerable in its facility and grounds? Consider a community threat assessment as well.
- Implement security protocols. Consider these suggestions: 1) Lock doors after services begin; 2) Post security team members at entrances; 3) Conduct a regular, annual re-assessment of the security plan.
- Install security cameras.Consider video surveillance to document and record potential threats or incidents.
- Establish a medical response team. Mobilize medical personnel already within the congregation who can take action if injuries ever occur.
- Evaluate the legal parameters for security measures. Research insurance requirements and conduct a liability assessment. Identify state civil laws regarding security measures, which can vary from state to state.
- Create an evacuation plan.Be sure the security team knows how to best evacuate churchgoers of all ages and mobility ranges, and consider creating another key team to assist. Practice the plan through drills.
- Involve local law enforcement in the security plan. Tell local police departments and other emergency responders about the plan, perhaps through an evening meeting. They may be able to offer additional suggestions or protocols.
- Communicate the new or existing measures with the congregation. Members will appreciate knowing the church has a plan to keep them safe.