Church Security: You Ask, We Answer

// Abby Connolly on Monday December 18, 2017

Although churches are often viewed as safe havens, they can be vulnerable to devastating violent acts, just like other businesses and organizations. Identifying the warning signs of a violent situation, knowing the best practices for protecting your church and getting fellow church members on board with increased safety and security efforts can seem overwhelming.

These topics and more were discussed in a recent webinar held by GuideOne Insurance. As you’ll see below, webinar participants asked thoughtful questions. Brian Gleason, senior risk manager at GuideOne, and Carl Chinn, independent church security consultant, have the answers to these questions.

Q: Throughout the webinar, you mentioned DLR. What does that mean?

A: DLR is an acronym for “Doesn’t Look Right”. This is a description of a person or situation that is out of the ordinary or suspicious.

Q: During incident collection, do you also track whether or not the aggressor had a relationship to the church or a member in the church, or if the aggressor was strictly a stranger?

A: The current statistics show that approximately 22% of aggressors are directly related to the church.

Q: What are the insurance implications of granting permission to carry concealed weapons in the church?

A: Anytime you allow or encourage the use of firearms in your organization you are essentially giving permission for your representative to take a person’s life. This should be done only after a thorough review of the ramifications. More information regarding concealed carry can be found here.

Q: How do we influence others in the congregation to understand the need for a safety ministry? Our congregation doesn’t see the need for an organized ministry and doesn’t want to be involved.

A: We recommend starting with the church’s leadership. Without leadership buy-in, no program will be effective. You can start with a conversation about the shepherd’s duty to care for the flock and the statistics provided in the webinar.

Q: Where do we go for local and regional safety defense and reporting compliances?

A: A good place to start is your local law enforcement agency and district attorney. They can give you a clear picture of the legal landscape in your area.

Q: Define your ideal security team.  In a very small church where a police presence might not be feasible, what would you suggest?

A: A good first step is identifying a couple of people to specifically be eyes and ears. Place one inside and one outside during events and services to be aware of what’s happening on church grounds.

Q: How frequently should training occur?

A: Do some kind of training at least once a month – even if it is 15 minutes before service time. Make it a team practice to read the “Think About It” article once a week at carlchinn.com.

Q: How do you address large bags or boxes?

A: Bags are a regular item at church services (diaper bags, large purses, oxygen bottles). We recommend first establishing a threat intelligence program for your church. If the threat level reaches the highest category (whether a known threat in the area or specific to your church), have a “no-bags allowed” status only for that event.

Q: How many safety personnel do you recommend to be available on a given day, and should they be placed in any particular place?

A: The number and placement of security personnel depends on the size, location and nature of the event, as well as any known threats. If you only have two people, one should be assigned to the outside. Beyond that, positions vary. Ratios are being defined by a study of the Faith Based Security Network, but until the study is complete, the estimate is 1% of the congregation on active duty at any given time for events with over 1,000 attendees, 1-3% for events with 100 - 1,000 attendees and 2-4% (but never less than two individuals) of crowds of 100 or less. Regardless, we are not talking a large amount of people dedicated to just patrol. But all teachers and volunteers should be on alert and know who to call.

Q: How well have you trained your staff on first aid/trauma care? 

A: Training and supplies for the medical portion should be as much, if not more, of a focus than training and equipment for the protection team. Any team will deal with medical emergencies more frequently than violent crime. Recruit people who are already medically certified, and if that is not feasible, send trainable people through your area Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) program.

Miss the webinar? We know life gets busy, so we made sure to record it for you. Along with the webinar recording, you can download valuable resources on church security and violence prevention.

This material is for information only and is not intended to provide legal or professional advice. You are encouraged to consult with your own attorney or other expert consultants for a professional opinion specific to your situation. This information is only a general description of the available coverages and is not a contract. In an effort to keep your policy coverage affordable, the actual policy contains certain limitations and exclusion. Please refer to your insurance policy for the pertinent contract language and coverages. Some coverages and discounts are not available in all states. GuideOne welcomes all applications, without regard to religion, race, color, national origin, sex, handicap or familial status.

Abby Connolly

Abby Connolly

Abby Connolly is a Marketing Strategy Specialist for GuideOne Insurance, focusing on the design and implementation of the church marketing plan, co-op advertising program, and direct mail campaigns.

When she’s not at work, she enjoys riding her bike on the Des Moines trails, spending time with her fiancé and two dogs, and going to the movies.

Revisiting Your Child Safety Plan

// Lindsay Taylor on Tuesday August 16, 2016

It’s that time of year again; back to school. This means that after-school clubs, fall sports practices, Sunday school and religious education classes are back in swing. While children are stocking up on new school supplies, it is important for the leaders of your organization to revisit your child safety plan.

While running your organization, it is extremely important to keep the safety of children in mind and plan for the unexpected. What will you do if severe weather strikes? Or an intruder? How will you protect the children from harmful situations? These are all questions that can be answered by having an up-to-date and accessible child safety plan.

A child safety plan can include many different items ranging from simple first-aid procedures to policies that ensure the security of children. As you revisit your plan, verify that these procedures are up-to-date and also add any new policies or procedures that you believe could be beneficial. Below are a few things you may include in your plan:

Emergency Evacuation Procedures – Ensure you have exit routes established for all areas, classrooms or offices in your building. Educate all staff and volunteers on these routes so they know exactly where to go in the event of an emergency. Post graphics of these routes in each room, and make sure all exits are labeled properly and are easy to find.

Severe Weather Procedures – Identify safe, easily accessible shelter areas where people can go when severe weather strikes. Make sure these areas are clearly labeled and that staff and volunteers know exactly where to go in an emergency. Include these locations with your emergency evacuation graphics. Additionally, make sure you have basic emergency supplies on hand. 

Intruder Procedures – Establish safe places for children to hide and inform staff of steps they may need to take, such as locking classroom doors and turning off lights. Additionally, having a system for alerting everyone of what is going on as well as when it is safe again is extremely important.

Sexual Misconduct and Abuse Prevention – To protect children from an unwanted situation, it is important to have policies in place to prevent one from happening. Some examples of policies include:

  • Run background checks on all staff.
  • Always have more than one adult in the room at a time.
  • Keep events and activities in open, visible areas.
  • Inform your staff and children about signs to look for prior to a situation taking place.

First-Aid Procedures – With children around, an accident is likely to happen. Ensure you have first-aid policies in place as well as a fully stocked first-aid kit. It may also be beneficial to have all of your staff go through a first-aid and CPR training course prior to working at your organization.

Keeping the children of your organization safe should be a top priority. An up-to-date child safety plan can help you be more prepared in an emergency situation. You can find more resources for keeping children safe by scrolling through the numerous Safety Resources on GuideOne.com.

This material is for information only and is not intended to provide legal or professional advice. You are encouraged to consult with your own attorney or other expert consultants for a professional opinion specific to your situation. This information is only a general description of the available coverages and is not a contract. In an effort to keep your policy coverage affordable, the actual policy contains certain limitations and exclusion. Please refer to your insurance policy for the pertinent contract language and coverages. Some coverages and discounts are not available in all states. GuideOne welcomes all applications, without regard to religion, race, color, national origin, sex, handicap or familial status.

Lindsay Taylor

Lindsay Taylor

Lindsay Taylor is a Marketing Coordinator for GuideOne Insurance, focusing on marketing communications and the co-op program.

In her free time, she enjoys dancing, running and spending time with friends and family.