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How to Strengthen Physical Security in Religious Institutions

By April 7, 2020Uncategorized

As a result of terrible active shooter events that have targeted religious institutions in recent years, places of worship are looking for ways to bolster their security. In order to do this, it’s important for every religious institution to create a synagogue, temple, mosque, or church security plan. Every type of religious center should follow these church security guidelines to come up with a security plan and put physical security measures in place.

How to Make a Church Security Plan for Any Religious Institution

Understand the Purpose

A security plan is the foundation of any religious institution’s security. The purpose of a security plan is to provide a comprehensive written description of emergency response policies and procedures that can be clearly followed to keep people safe from all types of threats. In one word: preparedness.

Address All Possible Scenarios

Your mosque, synagogue, temple, or church security plan must outline church security procedures for all types of emergency situations that could arise. These include active shooter scenarios (both directed at your facility and nearby), bomb threats, civil unrest, fires, storms, earthquakes, and other man-made and natural threats. Include directions for which team members will do what when different events occur, plans for how to evacuate congregation members or keep them safe inside the building, and all other practical elements of emergency responses.

Make a Plan to Collaborate with Local Authorities

Liaison with the heads of local police and fire departments to discuss your security concerns and emergency plans. Ask them to have an incident response plan ready to help you and your congregation deal with serious incidents. Arrange for authorities to be present during any large or special gatherings for which you want extra security.

Train Religious Leaders and Volunteers on Security Policies

Having a church security plan template filled in on paper alone isn’t enough. It’s important that you provide all team members, including staff and volunteers, a copy of the security plan and hold training on how to put it into action. Explain everyone’s roles in emergency situations as well as provide guidelines for how to communicate during an emergency, such as the use of walkie talkies. Make sure that everyone knows where emergency supplies, such as a first aid kit and AED, are located, as well as what your emergency evacuation or lockdown plans are.

Update Your Plan Regularly

Hold security meetings with the involved team members at least once every quarter to revisit your security plan. Discuss any local or national events that could affect the security of your religious institution and revise your procedures as necessary to address them. Rehearse your updated plans so everyone can practice their roles and is ready to react in the event of an emergency.

Ways to Increase Physical Security in Churches, Mosques, Synagogues, and Temples

Install Surveillance Cameras and an Alarm System

A CCTV surveillance system allows staff to monitor all areas of a religious institution. This way, you can spot potential threats right away and react accordingly. An alarm system will alert you when a secure entry point to the facility has been breached, allowing you to assess the situation and see if there is a security risk that needs to be addressed.

Do Walkthroughs of the Facilities Prior to Assemblies

Conduct a walkthrough of the interior of the property as well as the outside grounds before any regular assembly or special event. Look for signs that indicate something is off or suggest a threat to your congregation. If you notice anything concerning, contact the appropriate authorities to evaluate the situation and take any necessary security actions.

Monitor Entrances and Patrol Parking Lots

Assign staff members, volunteers, or security guards to monitor the main unlocked entrance (keep all non-essential entrances locked) to your religious facility as well as the outside of the property at all times. They can look out for security threats and relay information about potential risks back to the rest of your team. This way, you can start acting out procedures from your security plan as soon as possible to keep your congregation safe.

Conduct a Threat Assessment

A threat assessment is a tool for you to find ways to increase an institution’s security with the help of a security consultant. These professional security experts will talk to you about your security concerns, evaluate the security plan and physical security measures that you already have in place, and make recommendations about how to improve. For example, they can identify the most vulnerable access points to your facility that need to be strengthened against forced entry.

Use Riot Glass to Reinforce Vulnerable Entry Points

Riot Glass offers a full range of security window films, laminated security glass, and ArmorPlast containment-grade and ballistic-grade shields. These products can be retrofitted onto almost any existing glass windows and doors. Riot Glass forms a barrier against forced entry, prevents the existing glass from shattering due to vandalism or natural disasters, and provides protection against active shooters.

Riot Glass provides physical protection against all the different security threats outlined in your security plan. For example, if an armed attacker is attempting to force entry to your religious center, Riot Glass can delay entry long enough for those inside to react and give the authorities time to arrive. On the other hand, if there is a strong windstorm or another natural disaster, Riot Glass will hold your existing glass in place and prevent it from shattering inwards and potentially causing injury or leaving your facility exposed to the elements.

Conclusion

People visit religious centers to find peace and comfort, so it’s very important to have a comprehensive security plan to keep everyone safe without changing their experience. In addition to a security plan, it’s also important to consider different ways to increase the physical security of the institution. For more information about how you can increase physical security in churches, mosques, synagogues, temples, and other places of worship, or to schedule a threat assessment with one of our security consultants, contact us today.