Protecting Houses of Worship, Providing Security for Sanctuaries
No matter where you live in the world, a house of worship, whether a temple, church, synagogue, or mosque, should provide an escape from the evils of mankind. These sanctuaries offer us a place of peace where people from different social, economic, political, and ethnic backgrounds can come together to unite in their common faith.
Recently, even these sacred grounds have come under attack and been the scene of yet more tragic events in our country. When a tragedy occurs at a movie theater, school, concert, and now church, we learn that no place is immune to violence and we need to be acutely aware of our environment at all times. By learning from these past incidents, let’s consider what we can do to protect houses of worship and provide security for our sanctuaries.
Keep the Faith
On the day of a service, both employees and visitors of a place of worship can have a role to play to enhance protection. The congregation can be taught how to develop their situational awareness and identify possible threats and early warning signs of potential violence, such as surveillance, erratic behavior, signs of domestic violence, and indications of mental health issues, before they manifest into a much more serious risk. Houses of worship can also regularly distribute safety and security material to make people aware of relevant threats or issues of concern.
While ushers at most places of worship show people to their seats, they can provide information for a number of different inquiries. These people can also be the ears and eyes for a covert security platform. As people enter the building and once the service starts, they can visually observe the interior and exterior of the property to look for anomalies or suspicious activity.
Pray, Plan, Prepare, and Protect
Prayer is always good but it’s also important to plan, prepare, and protect against potential emergencies. The Department of Homeland Security’s “If You See Something, Say Something” campaign applies here. In order to mitigate an incident, we must first identify an event as a possible emergency (seeing) and then make the proper notification (saying). An emergency management plan is especially important for a number of reasons. If you have a plan, your people will know what to do when it comes to a potential incident, such as the arrival of a suspicious package or unauthorized intruder. When your employees and visitors understand their roles in an emergency, they can help to ensure safety—which is only possible with the proper preparation, planning, and training to respond to a crisis.
All Hazards but One Goal—Keep Your People Safe
You can capture the necessary procedures to keep your people safe in an all hazards emergency plan, because an all hazards approach prepares for every kind of incident—especially since most emergency plans rarely cover everything that might be required. Adaptable to circumstances, innovative, and, when necessary, improvisational, an all-hazards plan provides a definitive framework for responding to a wide variety of emergencies and includes designated lockdown procedures, safe rooms, emergency exits, and relocation areas.