The question of church safety was brought to me by a reader. Kudos to that citizen. During my time as a Community Coordinator with the Metro Nashville Police Department, I gave many talks on this topic.
When we attend church to worship and pray we should feel safe. Dallas Drake, a criminologist at the Center for Homicide research says “It is very safe to go to church on Sunday. There are very few incidents but they are high-profile when they occur.” In fact, your odds of being in a church service when a shooting occurs is 1 in 6,552,000.
There are things you can do to be better prepared in the event of a tragic incident. Listed below are some recommended initiatives that can minimize or possibly prevent the act of violence from happening altogether.
Safety Tips for Church Administrators:
1. Form safety teams. Parking lot security team: Have someone assigned to scan the parking lot every 15 minutes during service. Call the local police if suspicious activity or persons are spotted. Always have a greeter(s) posted at the interior enhance of the church after service has begun. Make sure no one wanders in without being seen or noticed.
2. If your church has a security and/or camera system, please ensure that it operates properly and is being used.
3. Your security team can consist of members of your congregation. Very important: Some safety training is absolutely necessary.
All members of the security team, including the pastor/minister and greeters, should have communication capability with each other.
4. Your security team and church administrators must meet periodically to assess and update safety measures.
Safety Tips For Church Members:
1. Never leave valuables in your vehicle while it’s parked in the church parking lot.
2. Report suspicious activity to ushers or members of the security team.
3. Be vigilant and aware of your surroundings.
For additional information, read Cop Connie’s Blog about Staying Safe in Public Places.