Security Matters – Being safe at your place of worship

By Nathan Wertheimer
Security Expert

When I attend any worship service at my religious institution, I am always aware of my surroundings. My church always has law enforcement on property when they layers of security at each worship service. They are there for many reasons. Plus, there is a Church Safety Team to look after everyone’s safety and security interests. Many of these church members are armed and trained to handle any matters that may arise. This is a good thing. No one should be worry about his or her safety in any church.

Don’t be afraid in your place of worship. Knowing how to act in an event of a situation is key. When sitting in the pews please get to know the building exit areas. In an event of an active shooter, you’ll want to duck down and take cover immediately. Do not freeze. This is where people can get shot and killed. There are two options, one to fight and the other to take cover and leave the area. The chances of an active shooter in your religious institution are not very high. It is rare when it does happen.

When I went to Sunday school as a kid in late 1980’s, there were a few bomb threats were phoned in at the religious institution. All of them had to be taken seriously. In the end, the bomb threat ended up being a hoax and disrupted normal operations of the religious institution. From the incident, I observed being evacuated from the building, seeing law enforcement arrive on property, K-9 searching the building/property, and standing in the parking lot/safe location waiting for the scene to clear. This happened to put fear in all who attended this religious institution. Everyone was fine after this incident. This was nothing new at this house of worship.

Any suspicious unattended items laying around at your religious institution need to be addressed to your Church Safety Team for them to investigate and take action immediately. If you think something looks out of place, say something. Help keep everyone safe at your place of worship.

Parking lot safety is another issue. Never walk alone to your vehicle at nighttime. Ask for an escort if needed. When a religious service lets out, there are many vehicles are heading home. Watch out for small children walking around in the parking lot. Adults should be watching their child with a lot of movement of vehicles in the parking lot. There is a chance of a child getting hit by a moving vehicle is high because the child and the vehicle driver may not be paying attention. This can be avoided if the adult takes the child by the hand and watching out for moving vehicles. Help keep everyone safe.

You have a right to be safe at your place of worship. If you feel unsafe then please bring this security matter to your clergy. You have a voice and must use it. Don’t be complacent of your own personal safety and security.

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Source of information: First hand experience

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