Sunday, January 31

Safety and Security...An Ongoing and Changing Process

A good church safety and security program has to be developed as a process. No church can do everything perfectly, including mine. Safety and security is an ongoing and changing process. You have to continuously be looking at your church from a safety perspective. It is important to continue to check and evaluate the items we talk about and then go back and recheck them. Your church needs will change as you grow and shift your ministries. Try to read with an open mind seeing where you can start implementing and changing the things we discuss. 



Saturday, January 30

Putting on Your Seatbelt...

The biggest push back that I receive regarding security in a church setting is that many people think that you are not trusting in the Lord if you are being proactive with safety and security concerns. 


I am sure that everyone reading this blog has either driven or has been a passenger in a car before. Instinctively, every time I get into a car I put on my seat belt. I do this out of habit not only because is it the law, but also because it is a wise way to stay safe. To date, I have been in three car accidents in my lifetime. By God’s grace all of which were not life threatening; however, they were serious enough to allow me to take several trips to the emergency room. Each and everyday that I awake I pray to the Lord and ask him to protect me and my family. When I get into a car I am completely trusting that the Lord will protect me. I am also taking a practical step to stay safe and be responsible by putting on my seatbelt. In all three accidents, the Lord did protect me. Each one could have killed me. The Lord used His might through things such as my seatbelt, air bags, and the good construction of my vehicles to keep me from getting hurt more. If it was the Lords will for this not to happen then anything that I tried to due would have failed. Similar to putting on your seat belt in your car, you also need to take precautions at your local church. You need to pray and trust in the Lord everyday for him to protect you and your congregation. You also need to be diligent and put your seatbelt on, as you find ways to make your church more safe and secure. 




Friday, January 29

Biblical Basis Supporting Church Security

Church security has been in existence since biblical times. One of the clearest illustrations takes place in the Old Testament in the Book of Nehemiah. When the city of Jerusalem was destroyed by the Babylonians, Nehemiah, a profit from the Lord, said: 


“From that day on, half of my servants worked on construction, and half held the spears, shields, bows, and coats of mail. And the leaders stood behind the whole house of Judah, who were building on the wall. Those who carried burdens were loaded in such a way that each labored on the work with one hand and held his weapon with the other… So we labored at the work, and half of them held the spears from the break of dawn until the stars came out. I also said to the people at that time, ‘Let every man and his servant pass the night within Jerusalem, that they may be a guard for us by night and may labor by day.’ So neither I nor my brothers nor my servants nor the men of the guard who followed me, none of us took off our clothes; each kept his weapon at his right hand.” (Nehemiah 4:16-17, 21-23 ESV)


It was apparent that the Lord had a mission for Nehemiah to complete. Nehemiah was prepared and established a plan to protect his people while they were doing the Lord’s work. The English Standard Version Study Bible points out that “though Nehemiah and the people prayed and trusted God for protection, they also kept their weapons close at hand, ready to defend themselves from attack; God often accomplishes His purposes through ordinary human means”.





Thursday, January 28

Church Security Website Launched


Nehemiah 4 is a story about vigilance.

"The people of God were facing opposition to their temple rebuilding project. They trusted in God to fight for them as they wielded their weapons to defend the building project of the place of the presence of God. They worked spear, sword, or bows in hand.

In our day and age, the Church has come against increasing opposition and antagonism where many are considering how to react biblically. Because Christians understand the importance of proclaiming the word of God to the people of God, we must consider the wisdom of proper safety and security measures. Much as the people of Nehemiah’s day needed to rebuild the walls of the temple, so we need to rebuild perspective about safety and security among the gathering places of God’s people. Not only will this conference address the variety of common threats to safety and security, it will also seek to equip pastors, leaders, teachers, and volunteers to handle a myriad of potential dangerous and emergency situations.

Southern Seminary has researched and invited a number of the top names to address these crucial topics. We hope you will join us for this important conference and consider how you can improve and reconsider your perspective on safety and security."

Registration

Wednesday, January 27

Spree of Church Burglaries

JACKSON, Miss. -- At least four Jackson churches have been burglarized in the last week, police said. The most recent break-in was reported Monday morning at the Cornerstone M.B. Church. http://www.wapt.com/crime-stoppers/22333813/detail.html

As you read this story you will find a common them among the churches. All the items that were stolen were electronic equipment. Why to burglars break into churches. They do it because they know that they can steal something of value and get away with it. They are looking for fast cash.

What can you do? Over and over again I talk about the importance of burglar alarms systems and video surveillance. These items serve as a deterrence and also aid law enforcement in catching the criminals and ultimately prosecuting them.

In the mean time you should take a photograph of everything of value within your church. You also need to record item, model, and serial numbers. This list should be kept both at the church and also at a separate location. This information will be essential in making insurance claims, as well as, for providing to the police. Most criminals attempt to pawn stolen merchandise for quick cash. These lists can be provided to local pawn shops. They can also be entered into a national database which would allow for law enforcement agencies all over the country to cross reference the information.

Tuesday, January 26

Law Enforcement Officers Safety Act Improvements Act of 2009

S. 1132
Law Enforcement Officers Safety Act Improvements Act of 2009 - Amends the federal criminal code to: (1) include Amtrak and executive branch police officers as federal law enforcement officers eligible to carry concealed firearms; and (2) revise requirements for certifying retired law enforcement officers to carry concealed firearms, including reducing the years of service required for such officers from 15 to 10 years and setting forth requirements relating to mental health certifications.

Read The Bill: S. 1132 - GovTrack.us

H.R. 3752
Law Enforcement Officers Safety Act Improvements Act of 2009 - Amends the federal criminal code to: (1) expand the definition of "law enforcement officers," for purposes of provisions authorizing such officers to carry concealed weapons, to include current and retired law enforcement officers of the Amtrak Police Department, the Federal Reserve System, the executive branch, and the Armed Forces; (2) allow law enforcement officers who are retired or who separated in good standing after at least ten years of service to carry a concealed weapon; and (3) expand the categories of law enforcement officers authorized to possess a fireman in a school zone to include retired law enforcement officers.
http://www.govtrack.us/congress/bill.xpd?bill=h111-3752 


If passed these Bill's will bring improvements for both retired law enforcement officers and "separated" law enforcement officers in relation to being able to carry concealed weapons throughout the country. This may be a benefit to your church and security team when attempting to recruit qualified members to serve with you.

Monday, January 25

Woman, 80, Shot in Head at Church

YOUNGSTOWN - An 80-year-old woman was found shot to death in the parking lot of a South Side church Saturday morning...''It's pretty bad when you can't go to church and you get shot at, you know what I mean?" parishioner John Schneider told Tribune Chronicle news partner 33 News




Note: I decided to change the color scheme of this blog a little today. In the past I would use the color GREEN to depict a quote from another sources followed by a link to that source. Starting today I am going to use this shade of BLUE and see if it help to make the blog look a little nicer. I also changed the format of the blog to hopefully give it a better look. 

Saturday, January 23

Churches and Natural Disasters

With the recent events in Haiti it is easier for people to think about the effects of a natural disaster. Although the images and news story's can be viewed daily there can still be a separation of reality since the tragedy did not directly effect those who are viewing them. It is important for us to be prepared for a natural disaster both in our homes and at our local churches. 


FEMA has some really helpful information on disaster planning. You can find this information at http://www.fema.gov/areyouready/. The information covers the following natural disasters:


I also came across this picture on line today. It was submitted by Ryan Crim and depicts a tornado behind Huston's First Baptist Church. The picture was found on Huntsville Times.



Friday, January 22

Mark Driscoll on Church Security - "Resurgence"

Mark Driscoll posted a very good document to help churches evaluated Safety and Security at your church. I recommend you take a look at this. He also posted the below Church Security Image. Not sure how DHS would like this, but I thought it was pretty cool. (Thanks Josh)

How to Access the Safety and Security of your place of worship (.pdf link)





Thursday, January 21

Jamaica Plain church set to rise from ashes

The below story is extremely interesting to me. My father grow up in this small portion of downtown Boston. This specific church has experienced tragedy multiple times over the last century.

Five years after fire, Jamaica Plain church set to rise from ashes - The Boston Globe

Posted using ShareThis

Wednesday, January 20

Breaking the Law by Baptizing Child

“I have been ordered by a judge not to expose my daughter to anything non-Judaism,” Reyes said. “But I am taking her to hear the teachings of perhaps the most prominent Jewish Rabbi in the history of this great planet of ours. I can’t think of anything more Jewish than that.” 'But last month, a judge issued a temporary restraining order specifically barring Reyes from exposing his daughter to any religion other than Judaism. It happened after Reyes had his daughter baptized without first consulting his estranged wife.'
http://www.theyeshivaworld.com/news/General+News/45064/Dad+Taking+Jewish+Daughter+To+Church+May+Violate+Court+Order.htm



Tuesday, January 19

Tennessee Sex Offender Registry Violated at Church

Chattanooga police have arrested a man for violating the Tennessee Sex Offender Registry after he set up a makeshift church on E. 39th Street after authorities told him to avoid church work and being employed near schools

Each state has different rules associated with sex offender registries. It is extremely important for your church to be familiar with all the rules associated with sex offenders and your local state!


Monday, January 18

ATF Investigates 7 Church Fires

State fire officials are working with U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives and local agencies to investigate seven suspicious church fires in east Texas since the beginning of the year.


The city of Tyler along with ATF are urging churches to monitor their facilities and urging citizens to report any suspicious activity to the Tyler Police Department at (903) 531-1000.


ATF is offering a $5,000 reward for information leading to an arrest in the case. Contact the City of Tyler or ATF if you have any information


Sunday, January 17

Medical Mission Trips

You never know what will occur when you are out of the country on a mission trip? The recent events in Haiti are a perfect example. If your church is sending out long or short term mission team make sure that they have purchased out of country travel insurance to assist will sickness and medical tragedy. 


The linked article tells the story of a church missions team that found themselves unexpectedly in the middle of the earthquake in Haiti.


"We knew we were there on a divine mission," Pastor Darrell Armstrong said during a news conference yesterday at Presbyterian Church of Lawrenceville upon the group's arrival home, "but we did not expect to arrive during one of the most cataclysmic events in the island's history."
http://www.philly.com/inquirer/world_us/81849007.html

Saturday, January 16

Wisdom is donating Money

I have a few thoughts in reference to this tragedy in Haiti. Many churches are raising money to send to help those in need in the aftermath of this earthquake.


Unfortunately, when tragedies like this occur (9/11, hurricane Katina, Tsunami) countless numbers of fraudulent organizations pop up attempting to raise money to support the cause. I words of advice are for you and your church to use wisdom in donating money. Make sure that you really know where your money is going and further how it is going to be used.

Friday, January 15

Emergency Haiti Relief Effort



Yesterday, I was informed that one of my co-workers was desperately trying to get a hold of family and friends after the devastating 7.0 Earthquake that hit Haiti on January 12, 2010. 


Today, sadly we were given word that his aunt and 5 of his cousins were killed after the quake caused their home to collapse on top of them. Fortunately, his parents and sister are alive. My office is launching a relief effort for my co-worker. From now through February 28th, my office will be accepting voluntary monetary donations in order to help out with what will be the daunting task of providing temporary housing for his mother and sister then the eventual rebuilding of a new permanent home.

If you would like to give to this effort, my wife and I will be handing in our donation in late February and you can hand yours in along with us. Just email me for more details (brian@securityatchurch.com). Since we are giving directly to a particular family I don't want to make public the names on the blog. I do however, believe this is the best way to have your donation make a difference because you are giving to a specific family in need rather then to an larger organization. 



Of course your prayers for this family are also extremely valuable and I ask you to pray with us for them. Thanks for prayerfully considering to give.


Please Also consider re-blogging and posting this request to others!

Thursday, January 14

Two Baptist Churches, One Small Town


Two Baptist churches in one small town… One church was the victim of car break-in while the other was the victim of a stray bullet. One incident may have been preventable while the other a random act of violence or just simple stupidity.

Does your church have a parking crew or security team assigned to monitor your parking lot? If not think about how you can start off small. Is there a member of your church who would be willing to volunteer to walk your parking lot once or twice during the church service?

Criminals normally want to strike easy targets. Many times they are also smarter then we give credit for. Most criminals will check out or conduct surveillance their targets multiple times people carrying out their crime. It only takes getting caught once to end their malicious activities.

By patrolling your parking lots and the exterior of your building you are providing a visual deterrence for anyone who may be considering do wrong to your property. This is a small task that can provide great rewards!

Wednesday, January 13

Electric problem blamed for church fire - KOAM TV 7 Joplin and Pittsburg News Weather Sports |

Carthage Fire Battalion Chief Roger Williams says the people inside the church reported that an electrical worker was called after the church lost power. Immediately after the power was restored, the fire was spotted coming from the roof of the church.
Electric problem blamed for church fire - KOAM TV 7 Joplin and Pittsburg News Weather Sports |


According to the United States Fire Administration faulty electrical wiring is one of the main causes of electrical fires. (http://www.usfa.dhs.gov/citizens/all_citizens/home_fire_prev/electrical.shtm) 

The below information was also provided by USFA as helpful information in relation to electrical fires.

December is the most dangerous month for electrical fires. Fire deaths are highest in winter months which call for more indoor activities and increase in lighting, heating, and appliance use.

Most electrical fires result from problems with "fixed wiring" such as faulty electrical outlets and old wiring. Problems with cords and plugs, such as extension and appliance cords, also cause many home electrical fires.

Many avoidable electrical fires can be traced to misuse of electric cords, such as overloading circuits, poor maintenance and running the cords under rugs or in high traffic areas.

Safety Precautions

  • Routinely check your electrical appliances and wiring.
  • Frayed wires can cause fires. Replace all worn, old or damaged appliance cords immediately.
  • Use electrical extension cords wisely and don't overload them.
  • Keep electrical appliances away from wet floors and counters; pay special care to electrical appliances in the bathroom and kitchen.
  • Whey buying electrical appliances look for products evaluated by a nationally recognized laboratory, such as Underwriters Laboratories (UL).
  • Don't allow children to play with or around electrical appliances like space heaters, irons and hair dryers.
  • Keep clothes, curtains and other potentially combustible items at least three feet from all heaters.
  • If an appliance has a three-prong plug, use it only in a three-slot outlet. Never force it to fit into a two-slot outlet or extension cord.
  • Never overload extension cords or wall sockets. Immediately shut off, then professionally replace, light switches that are hot to the touch and lights that flicker. Use safety closures to "child-proof" electrical outlets.
  • Check your electrical tools regularly for signs of wear. If the cords are frayed or cracked, replace them. Replace any tool if it causes even small electrical shocks, overheats, shorts out or gives off smoke or sparks.
Finally, having a working smoke alarm dramatically increases your chances of surviving a fire. And remember to practice a home escape plan frequently with your family.

Tuesday, January 12

Safety with Oversized Church Vans


Witnesses told police that the driver swerved off the road to the left shoulder, lost control in the snow, began to slide sideways, and then flipped into a ditch on the right side of the road.
http://toledoblade.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20100111/NEWS16/1110373/0/BUSINESS02 

This church has experienced its second major tragedy within six months. After a fire gutted their church facility the youth group was involved in a serious accident involving their church van. 


This is a good reminder to review some of the safety information related to large size vans! 

According to a report from the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration posted by South Eastern Oklahoma State University the below facts apply to oversized vans:

~ 15-passenger vans have a increased rollover risk under certain conditions

~ The risk of rollover increases dramatically as the number of occupant’s increases from fewer than five occupants to over ten passengers.

~ 15-passenger vans (with 10 or more occupants) had a rollover rate in single vehicle crashes that is nearly 3 x the rate of those that were lightly loaded.

~ Loading 15-passenger vans causes the center of gravity to shift rearward and upward increasing the likelihood of rollover. Shift in the center of gravity will also increase the potential for loss of control in panic maneuvers.

~ It is important that the van be operated by experienced drivers, they should understand and be familiar with the handling characteristics of their vans, especially when fully loaded.

~ Institutions using 15-passenger vans should require seat belt use at all times.

~ Any load placed on the roof will be above the center of gravity of the vehicle and will increase the likelihood of rolling over.

Monday, January 11

Theft of Church Audio Equipment

 "Two men from Mountain Home, Arkansas are charged with breaking into a church and stealing audio equipment." (Mountain Home, AR) 
http://ozarksfirst.com/content/fulltext/?cid=223602



As I have researched church crime I have found a common pattern associated with church thefts. It seems that most church thefts are surrounding music and audio equipment.  What does your church do to protect its equipment?

All of your music and audio equipment should be inventoried, recorded and photographed. In the event of a theft or fire this information will be helpful for the police report and insurance claims.

Sunday, January 10

4th Church attacked in Malaysia

"Arsonists in Malaysia struck a fourth church on Saturday as the government tried to soothe tensions arising from a row over the use of the word "Allah" to refer to the Christian God...Police said they have stepped up security at all places of worship but faced a manpower shortage. Inspector General of Police Musa Hasan told churches across the country to hire more security guards."


Saturday, January 9

Christians Attacked over the Word "Allah"

Three Christian churches were attacked with firebombs Friday as tensions rose in a dispute over whether Christians could use the word “Allah” in this largely Muslim nation. -KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia


Friday, January 8

Attack at a Church in Egypt Kills 7

"Three men in a car sprayed automatic gunfire into a crowd of churchgoers on Wednesday in the southern Egyptian town of Nag Hammadi, killing at least seven people as they left a midnight Mass for Coptic Christmas, security officials and the church bishop said." -Associated Press
http://www.nytimes.com/2010/01/07/world/middleeast/07egypt.html 




Thursday, January 7

Church Volunteer Faces Sex Charges

"A 20-year-old former church youth leader in Post Falls has been accused of having sex with underage girls." –Associated Press


Continuing on the theme of yesterdays post, this article is just another example of sexual criminal activity occurring within the church. If sexual sin could tempt King David then I think that it is fair to say that no person, pastor or priest is exempt from this temptation. Every week the news is full of articles related to sexual controversy plaguing the universal church. As Christians we need to fight this temptation. As a church we need to set up policies and practices to protect against it.

Wednesday, January 6

Fondling Girl in City Church

"A sex offender who was released from prison last April has been charged with fondling an 11-year-old girl in a Southwest Baltimore church, according to court records." -Baltimore, MD
Sex offender charged with fondling girl in city church - baltimoresun.com 


Many churches have after care programs for convicts who have recently been released from prison or jail. If your church has such a program extra steps may need to be considered within your security plan. Limit access to children for convicted sex offenders. If they are truly repentant then they will be more than willing to work with the church and the guidelines that are established. Those who are not willing to abide by rules are the ones that would be cause for greater concern. 

Tuesday, January 5

1,237 Crimes Committed Against Christian Churches

"There were at least 1,237 crimes committed against Christian Churches and ministries in the United States this past year, according to a report released Monday"
http://www.christianpost.com/article/20100104/report-over-1-200-crimes-against-churches-in-2009/index.html 


Hat Tip: Josh Deckard for Tweeting this report information...
http://www.joshua189.com

Monday, January 4

Guns in Church

“Some of the things that have happened this year might make us think about allowing guns in churches,” said state Sen. Don Thomas, R-Dalton."
www.northwestgeorgia.com/local/local_story_002222323.html

The issue of guns in church is a complicated but important topic. I have worked with many different pastors and church leaders with conflicting prospective. The biblical book of Nehemiah shows president God’s people protecting themselves with weapons to advance God’s work. This statement needs to be handled carefully and with thought. Only trained individuals should be authorized to carry weapons within a religious institution.

Sunday, January 3

Bullet Kills Boy at New Year's Church Service

DECATUR, Ga. —  A falling bullet from celebratory gunfire has killed a 4-year-old boy attending a New Year's Eve church service in metro Atlanta. ~Associated Press
www.ajc.com/news/dekalb/boy-most-likely-shot-264997.html 


Few details have been released about this event. Authorities have stated that a bullet came through the roof of the church and struck the child. According to police the bullet was most likely shot from a rifle from up to 3 miles away. Local police stated that celebratory gun fire has been normal in that part of Georgia over past years during New Years celebrations. 


One principle with gun safety is to remember "what goes up, must come down". Never just shoot your gun into the air. If you don't know where your bullet is going to go, then you have no business allowing it to leave your gun!

Friday, January 1

Happy New Year

Happy New Year!!

Carl Chinn is a great resource for reviewing statistical data for church related crimes over 2009 and past years. This is the best website that I have seen that gives you the big picture from year to year,

www.carlchinn.com  

 Data Below from www.carlchinn.com

DATA CURRENT AS OF 12/26/09
NUM
%
TOTAL INCIDENTS TRACKED
272

NUMBER OF "ATTACKS RESULTING IN DEATH OF OTHERS" (ARDO)
142
52.21%
NUMBER OF ARDO's STOPPED IN PROCESS BY LAW ENFORCEMENT
5
3.52%
NUMBER OF ARDO's STOPPED IN PROCESS BY OTHERS
6
4.23%
NUMBER OF ARDO's NOT STOPPED UNTIL THE ATTACKER WAS FINISHED
131
92.25%
NOTE: in 2009 alone, there have been 6 significant attacks prevented by effective law enforcement actions, and 1 by alert and responsive congregants before they could become ARDO's (see CRIME HISTORY to review incidents on 1/11, 2/2, 5/18, 5/20, 6/8, 8/9 and 10/23/2009)



Total known attack triggers
195

Intimate Partner Violence
37
18.97%
Personal Conflict
56
28.72%
Robbery
41
21.03%
Gang
16
8.21%
Random and other (currently working to extract "drug related" as a new category out of this)
45
23.08%



Total incident weapons known (some attacks had more than one weapon)
276
%
Gun
179
64.86%
Knife
46
16.67%
Auto
7
2.54%
Explosives
11
3.99%
Other (poison, beating, hanging, fire, various objects)
33
11.96%



Victim Statistics


Total killed and injured
440

Killed
197
44.77%
Wounded
243
55.23%
Avg. # killed per ARDO
1.39

Avg. # killed per ARDO where attack was stopped by law enforcement
2.40

Avg. # killed per ARDO where attack was stopped by others
1.33

Male victims (killed)
117
59.39%
Female victims (killed)
80
40.61%
Affiliated (employee or volunteer) with ministry (killed)
69
35.03%



Aggressor Statistics


Total known (even if known only by description) aggressors
258

Male
235
91.09%
Female
23
8.91%
Affiliated (member, past member, employee, volunteer) with ministry
65
25.19%



Total aggressors (including those without even a description) and their status 
290

Suicide
32
11.03%
KIA
10
3.45%
Arrested 
162
55.86%
Unknown or at-large
86
29.66%



Incident Statistics


Occurred inside the building
99
36.67%
Occurred outside on ministry property
171
63.33%
Occurred during event
117
43.66%
Occurred in off hours
151
56.34%
Single attacker
161
75.94%
Multiple attackers
51
24.06%



TOTAL DEAD (includes aggressors, suicides & unsolved suspicious deaths)
239










Total deadly force incident stats by year
Year
Total deaths (Homicide, suicide, unsolved suspicious and killed aggressors)
Total Incidents
1999
21
9
2000
8
4
2001
4
5
2002
11
9
2003
10
8
2004
2
2
2005
18
9
2006
30
27
2007
38
39
2008
48
61
2009
44
99



TOTAL DEADLY FORCE INCIDENTS SINCE 1/01/1999

272



Some have asked for pure data on the number of victims killed by attack at a church or ministry. Many of the attacks in the above statistics include persons actually killed away from the attack on the church, but as a result of the attack.Example: While Freddie Cranshaw's violent attack on 8/28/2005 was due to his anger at the Church, and his first 2 victims were the pastor and another church member in the parking lot, his rage resulted in him killing 2 women down the street who had nothing to do with the church. So for the purity of this statistic, those 2 ladies (and other victims like them) are not included in the following. Suspicious deaths (such as John Walker on 12/22/08 and Patricia Wilkins-Wells on 1/28/07) are also removed from the following data. Suicides and aggressor deaths are also not included.
Year
# of victims
# of ARDO's
1999
15
6
2000
1
1
2001
3
2
2002
9
6
2003
8
7
2004
0
0
2005
13
6
2006
27
15
2007
32
25
2008
34
32
2009
32
32