Friday, April 30

Should a Shooting in a Church be a Hate Crime?

"The gang members who opened fire at a funeral service in East Oakland on Tuesday should be prosecuted under state and federal hate crime statutes.

Firing a weapon into or inside a house of worship packed with mourners is about as direct an assault on an individual's religious beliefs as you can get. Thankfully, no was hit by the half dozen rounds fired."

Thursday, April 29

Louisiana House to Debate Bills to Allow Guns in Church

"BATON ROUGE, La. -- Concealed weapons would be allowed inside churches, synagogues or mosques -- if the religious leaders agree -- under a bill headed to the House floor for debate. The measure sponsored by Rep. Henry Burns, R-Haughton, passed out of the House Criminal Justice Committee in an 8-3 vote Wednesday."

This is a good article to remind us that laws differ state to state. It is important for your to become familiar with your states local regulations. Can a parishioner legally carry a gun into your facility? What rights does the church have in your state to allow or restrict these types of activities? You may be surprised what you find out...

Tuesday, April 27

Best Practices for Securing a Parking Lot or Garage

Joe Wenzel published an article in Security Magazine today related to "Best Practices for Securing a Parking Lot or Garage" Listed below are several of the items he highlighted.
  • Keeping all areas, especially stairwells, adequately illuminated.
  • Providing intercom call stations for stranded patrons or patrons requiring assistance.
  • Providing alarm stations that immediately summon security to the alarm station location (this is used predominately on university campuses).
  • Providing well-illuminated shelters for waiting patrons.
  • Providing intuitive directional instruction signs to areas, levels, terminals, shuttle stops, etc.
  • Designing parking lots and structures that minimize the distance required for the patron to access their vehicle, thus reducing the time spent outside their vehicle.
  • Installing CCTV systems (e.g. video surveillance) that are regularly monitored.
  • Displaying notifications about each facility’s safety measures (e.g. “This Facility is Under 24 Hour Surveillance”).
Click to Read Article

Sunday, April 25

Shooting at New Jersey Church

"A Whitesboro man is now charged with aggravated assault with a deadly weapon for allegedly shooting a handgun outside a church parking lot on Saturday afternoon, police said Sunday...People were inside the Christ Gospel Church at the time for a church function, but no injuries were reported"

Saturday, April 24

Tourist Shot by Police at Church of the Holy Sepulcher

"The Israeli occupation government police shot and wounded on Saturday a tourist who reportedly attempted to stab a police officer in the Church Of Holy Sepulcher. "

I was surprised to see this article in the headlines today. Last month I spent two weeks in Israel doing business for my primary employer. It is a shocking feeling knowing that this happened only a few weeks after I stepped foot into this same church. The Church of the Holy Sepulcher is the Church that was built on top of multiple historic sites from the time of Jesus. Some of these include the location of Golgotha (Where Jesus Cross was placed into the ground) and his tomb. 

This is The Church of the Holy Sepulcher in Jerusalem, Israel
(c) 2010 Brian J. Gallagher

 This was a bomb containment vessel located outside the main entrance to the church.
(c) 2010 Brian J. Gallagher

Friday, April 23

Teenager Convicted of Sexually Assaulting Child in Sunday School

"Andrew C. Glidwell, 19, of Hendersonville, plead guilty to two counts of aggravated sexual battery. He was sentenced to nine years to serve at 100 percent for each count, which will run consecutively...Glidwell was a part-time teacher at the First United Methodist Church in Hendersonville’s Children First program, where the crimes occurred. According to the prosecution, Glidwell approached the girl on three separate occasions while the she was sleeping to make sexual advances."

What are you churches policies on children's programs at your church?

Do you screen your volunteers?

Do they go through a background check?

Do you have a rule that keeps two adults with the children at all times?

Do you have a policy that prevents the opposite sex (or a single person) from taking a child to the bathroom alone?

Do you allow your help to physically disciple children?

Do you have a camera system that can be used as a checks and balance? 

Thursday, April 22

Drive thru Church Service

KALAMAZOO, Mich. (WOOD) - "A man was injured after his vehicle crashed into a two-story building containing a church and apartment in Kalamazoo."

Wednesday, April 21

Woman Assaulted at Church

"Pastor Ron Galloway explained how Antonio Simmons assaulted one of his members during service. The victim said Simmons grabbed her arm, pulled her hair and choked her...Pastor Galloway asked Simmons to leave, but he refused. That's when several members of the congregation physically took Simmons out to the parking lot. He still refused to leave church premises, but ended up leaving just before deputies arrived."

Tuesday, April 20

Police Officer at Church Saves Child

"This weekend, a Eugene Police crime prevention specialist – Officer Steven Chambers – said he was working at a youth event at the church when he "observed a commotion involving a woman calling out for her missing child," according to a press release from the Eugene Police Department."

Monday, April 19

Church Holds Banquet for Police Officers

"The pastor and members of Pleasant Grove Baptist Church hosted an appreciation banquet for law enforcement personnel from across the Pine Belt Saturday...Pastor Jerry Roberson said the banquet is the church’s small way of showing how much it appreciates the service rendered by the men and women in uniform."

This is a great idea to both honor the police officers and firefighters in your community and to create an opportunity to invite them into your facility. Public safety officers in your community will remember a nice gesture and will take an extra step to help keep your church facility and property safe. 

Sunday, April 18

Authorities Advise Churches to Step up Security

ALBANY, GA – "Authorities in Thomas County are advising churches to step up their security after multiple church burglaries there. The most recent burglary happened early Tuesday morning at Victory Baptist Church."

Saturday, April 17

18 Year Old Indicted for Church Shooting

 "Two months after a pair of teenage brothers were shot and wounded during Sunday services at a Richmond church, a Contra Costa County grand jury today handed down an five-count indictment against a mentally ill 18-year-old man prosecutors are identifying as the shooter."

Friday, April 16

The Police and your Local Church

I came across an article yesterday that was featuring the Irving Police Department in Texas. The local police department was putting on a seminar on Church Security. Every church is not going to have the opportunity to attend a seminar by their local police department; however, they can reach out the the police and asked them for advice on how they could better protect their facility and congregation. 

It is important to liaison with your local police and fire departments. Invite them to come and visit your church building. In the event of an emergency you will want them to be familiar with the inside of your building. Hint: Purchase a few pizza's and host an open house for the police and fire department. Having a little bit of food will encourage them to stop by. 

Read Article

Thursday, April 15

Together for the Gospel - Conclusion

After a week filled with long hours Together for the Gospel (T4G) has come to an end. The conference was extremely successful and I am eagerly awaiting the 2012 event. 

Many exciting things came from this event over the last week! I had the opportunity to speak with  many pastors and church leaders about church security. I also was able to take a few steps forward with the book that I have been working on!

Together for the Gospel happened to be in Louisville, Kentucky. This is the same location as the Vigilance Security Conference that is going to take place in July. The details for the event are set and the registration is underway. Help us spread the word and get people signed up for this upcoming event. 

Right to Left: Albert Mohler, CJ Mahaney, Ligon Duncan, Brian Gallagher, Jecholia Gallagher, and Mark Dever

Monday, April 12

Together for the Gospel - Security at Conferences

Today is Day #1 of a busy week is Louisville, Kentucky. This evening is the Sovereign Grace Ministries Pastors Conference followed by the Together for the Gospel Conference which officially starts in the morning. 7,000 church leaders have come from all over the world to hear from 17 of the countries most well known and respected Christian Authors and Speakers. I always thought that running Safety and Security for a event like this would be easy. Several years back I quickly realized that I was wrong. When you have 7,000 pastors that want to get to the front of the stage to talk with one of the invited speakers, this creates a real challenge from a security prospective.

Here are a few pointers if you find yourself planning security for a conference of your own.

1. Stanchions and barriers can be your best friend. Create a barrier between you, the speaker, and the crowd. This allows for free movement of all VIP's and creates a buffer zone between you and the masses. 

2. Research a second entrance that the speakers can use that will keep them from having to walk through the crowds to get to their seat or the stage. Most buildings have fire exits, back doors, service doors, ect. You may need to become creative.
3. Have a restroom and plan identifies if the speakers needs to visit the facilities. Is there a restroom that they can use that is separate from the rest of the group.
4. Determine a location that the speaker can hold prior to speaking or for immediately after he is done. It is easier to move him from one location to the next when some of the crowd has dissipated.
5. If you have a security team integrate your plan into the plan of the ushers or greeters. The can act as a force multiplier for you and assist you with many of your needs. 

Sunday, April 11

Thieves Steal Copper Pipes from Church

Click to View Story Here:
KIRO-TV "reports that members of Grace Missionary Baptist Church were preparing for a mens' breakfast Friday night when they noticed the toilets weren't flushing. There was also no water from the faucets...Parishioner Dan Gardner says they could hear water somewhere. But when he looked under the church's crawl space, he discovered that all the copper pipes had been taken."

If you were reading my blog for the first time you may be surprised by this article. Why would thieves steal copper pipes from a church? The reality is similar to so may other crimes, this one is becoming common for churches across America. It is easy to point to the economy as the cause for this type of crime. It may be true that there has been an increase in thefts of building materials, but this has been occurring long before the financial collapse. 

When I checked the market this morning copper is currently trading at $3.58 a pound. Stealing your pipes and wiring is a quick way to make a buck! Another common theme that I have seen over the last year has been people stealing the copper coils out of air-conditioning units. 

Exterior cameras and proper lighting can be a perfect deterrent. 

Wednesday, April 7

Be Proactive, NOT Reactive!!

In looking through the headlines today, I came across the below linked article. Like so many other stories that I have posted this article involves a church who has been broken into and robbed. There was one particular sentence that really jumped out at me.

"A recent burglary at the Zion United Lutheran Church in Brodheadsville will lead church leaders to re-examine the possibility of installing a security system, said church pastor"

In talking with multiple churches I have found it common that many of them have actually considered a security or camera system in the past. It was a common to find out that the majority of them have decided against purchasing these systems because they did not feel like it was a priority to spend the money.

It is not until tragedy strikes that they consider the  purchase to be a priority. Unfortunately, after the crime has occurred is to late. 

We should learn from the experiences of others. Do not relay on being reactive in your approach to security. A Proactive approach will be the best deterrent in deflecting crime from your church.

Tuesday, April 6

Church Attacked with Molotov Cocktails

(Ipswich, MA) "Two Molotov cocktails struck the First Church in Ipswich, 1 Meeting House Green, in two attacks several hours a part early Tuesday morning, April 6."

Monday, April 5

$20,000 stolen from Sacramento church on Easter

"SACRAMENTO (AP) — Authorities say two women stole thousands of dollars from collection plates at an Easter church service in Sacramento.

The alleged theft took place around 11:20 a.m. Sunday. The Church of the Nazarene on Arden Way was packed for the Easter sermon.

The women were allegedly spotted in a church office but were gone before church officials were able to verify their identities. They allegedly took between $10,000 and $20,000. No arrests have been made."

Sunday, April 4

Happy Easter!!

I hope and pray that you have a grace filled Easter with your family and loved ones today! Here are a few pictures of Jesus Empty Tomb that I took in March while working in Jerusalem, Israel.

This was built over top of where Jesus Tomb was carved out of stone. 

This is the modern entrance to the empty tomb of Jesus

Only a few yards away from the Tomb of Jesus was the tomb where Joseph of Arimathea was buried. The large tomb where Jesus was buried was originally prepared for Joseph; however, was given to Jesus at the time of his death. 

Saturday, April 3

Vigilance Church Security Conference - Robert Klamser

Foreign Travel/Mission Trips - Robert Klamser
Short-term mission trips can be tremendous ministry experiences for both the participants and recipients/hosts.  Although there are risks and hazards associated with all missions trips, these risks and hazards can be substantially mitigated with proper planning and preparation.  This seminar will cover key risk mitigation actions in these major areas: risk assessment, legal precautions, and contingency/action plans.

Robert Klamser
Robert Klamser is the co-founder and executive director of Crisis Consulting International, a non-profit organization that provides security and crisis management services to the missionary, humanitarian and NGO communities. He retired from a 23 year law enforcement career in 1994. During that career he held a wide range of responsibilities, including command of a criminal investigation unit, command of a hostage negotiation team and command of the operations section of a municipal government’s emergency operations center. In addition to his responsibilities with Crisis Consulting International, he has served as the missions pastor and administrator of a large southern California church. Robert also serves on the Professional Services Network of the Evangelical Fellowship of Mission Agencies. He is a frequent conference and workshop speaker and has appeared as an expert commentator and as a technical consultant on several major television networks. He and his wife, a retired police officer, reside in southern California.

Friday, April 2

Vigilance Church Security Conference - Tommy Ishmael

Maryville Church Shooting Case Study - Tommy L. Ishmael
This presentation will cover the events of March 8, 2009 at First Baptist Church of Maryville Il and the murder of Senior Pastor Fred Winters.  It begins with a routine early morning Southern Baptist church service and other activities in progress,  works through the actual shooting itself (will not disclose issues still in criminal litigation) and concludes with the incident resolution, lessons learned and church recovery from this hostile act.

Tommy L. Ishmael
Tommy L. Ishmael is an explosive ordnance disposal (EOD) program manager for the United States Air Force at Scott AFB in Illinois. He is a bomb disposal expert by trade with over 32 years of bomb disposal and emergency management experience. He has extensive training in disarming nuclear weapons, biological and chemical ordnances, and homemade and terrorist bombs. He advises the U.S. military on bomb threats, disaster preparedness and vulnerability assessment issues and provides technical advice to local, state and federal authorities at all levels. Tommy is enrolled in the Southern Seminary master of arts in theological studies (MATS) program, he has a bachelor of science in Business Administration, an associate of science in Disaster Preparedness and an associate of science in Aircraft Armament Systems. His church home is First Baptist Church of Maryville, Ill., where he has previously served as the security program director. Tommy now volunteers as a security technical advisor to his church security team and works in defense for pastoral and altar security. He is married to Robin Birdwell Ishmael and enjoys camping, hunting, fishing and his church family.

Thursday, April 1

Vigilance Church Security Conference - Adam Houghton

Keeping It Legal - Adam Houghton
This class is intended to help the student become aware of legal and technical issues surrounding the complex decision to protect their facility from a dynamic, violent and life threatening incident.  We will be discussing criminal liability as well as some considerations that must be understood before undertaking higher levels of security.  This class will help the student understand why it is increasingly important to consider  your church’s vulnerability and how to better provide a safe place for people to worship.

Adam Houghton
Adam Houghton was a police officer serving in the Louisville area for over 20 years. He was the primary firearms instructor for the Jefferson County Police department. Additionally he served as the head defensive tactics instructor, fitness instructor and basic academy drill instructor. Adam served as a member of the Jefferson County Police Departments SWAT team and later the Louisville Metro Police Departments SWAT team after a merger of the departments. Adam was the primary point operator for 12 years and served as the team’s tactical commander for another six years. Adam has instructed police officers throughout the region in shooting, active shooter tactics, defensive tactics, fitness and swat tactics.
Adam currently resides with his family in northwest Montana and works at the Pinehaven Christian Children’s ranch teaching physical education and health to kids in need.