Thursday, January 31

Update: Alabama Kidnapping - Hostage - School Bus Shooting

From: The New York Times
MIDLAND CITY, Ala. — A tense standoff in rural Alabama involving a man with a history of violent behavior and a 5-year-old boy he abducted from a school bus is unlikely to end quickly, law enforcement officials said Thursday. The two remained holed up in the man’s underground bunker...

The boy is reportedly doing well, said an Alabama state senator, Harri Anne Smith, in a television interview early Thursday. She and a state representative, Steve Clouse, have met with the boy’s mother, who wanted to ensure that medication he is said to take was delivered to the bunker, along with coloring books and food.

Click for Article

Church Security After Sandy Hook

From: Associated Baptist Press - The Baptist Standard

The Sandy Hook school massacre terrified parents nationwide and sparked a debate on gun control and school security. But it’s also led to some soul searching on church staffs worried about how to best protect worshipers and school children in their buildings.

Click for Article

Wednesday, January 30

FOX News: POLICE STANDOFF: Gunman Shoots School Bus Driver, Snatches Child

From: Fox News
The Alabama man police say shot and killed a school bus driver Tuesday in an attempt to kidnap a 6-year-old boy has been hunkered down for hours with the child in an underground bunker on his remote property, The Dothan Eagle, a local newspaper, reported.

The paper reported that neighbors in Midland City, which is in south Alabama, identified the suspect as Jimmy Lee Dykes, 67. Police have not officially released the suspect's identity.

Click for Article:
POLICE STANDOFF: Gunman Shoots School Bus Driver, Snatches Child.

Tuesday, January 29

Arkansas Senate Passes Church Guns Rights Bill -

From: USA Today

The Church Protection Act

The Arkansas Senate has passed a bill lifting a ban on carrying concealed weapon in church.

The proposal, which goes to the Arkansas House for consideration, would allow churches to decide which, if any, worshippers with concealed carry permits can bring their firearms inside.

The measure passed 28-4 on Monday, KATV reported.

Click for Article


Police call for Increase in Church Security - St. Louis Mayor Comments

From: KMOV 

Police call for local churches to increase security after latest robbery!

A robbery at an East St. Louis church is just the latest in a string of crimes at churches, places thought would be sacred ground and off limits to criminals.

Since a man with mental problemsshot the pastor of Maryville Baptist church four years ago, crime at churches across the nation has shot up 527 percent, according to a Missouri company that provides security advice and training to churches...

“It’s just totally, totally unacceptable to have someone there for a worship experience being robbed,” said East St. Louis Mayor Alvin Parks.

Click for Article and Video

Monday, January 28

Billy Graham's Grandson Comments on Sovereign Grace Ministries Sex Abuse Case

From: Christianity Today

In response to a civil lawsuit alleging that it covered up numerous cases of child sexual abuse, Sovereign Grace Ministries (SGM) has pledged to "carefully review" each accusation.

However, the lawsuit—which claims the association of Reformed church plants discouraged victims' parents from reporting abuse to authorities and had victims forgive their abusers in person—has also prompted the denomination to cite its First Amendment right to religious freedom...

Highlights from Article:


"SGM believes that allowing courts to second-guess pastoral guidance would represent a blow to the First Amendment that would hinder, not help, families seeking spiritual direction among other resources in dealing with the trauma related to any sin including child sexual abuse," Tommy Hill, SGM's Director of Administration
----

Boz Tchividjian, founder and executive director of Godly Response to Abuse in the Christian Environment (GRACE), which has investigated sex abuse allegations previously for New Tribes Mission and currently for Bob Jones University, readily acknowledges that he does not know all the facts. But the former Florida child abuse prosecutor takes issue with the SGM statement.

"Quite frankly, any time an institution—a Christian institution—responds or defends its behavior as it relates to sexual abuse allegations with quoting laws and hiding behind constitutions, it causes me concern," said Tchividjian, a law professor and grandson of Billy Graham. "I think an authentic, gospel-centered response to sexual abuse disclosures within an institution is to be transparent and to be vulnerable.

"God did his most powerful work when his son was transparent and vulnerable," Tchividjian added, referring to Jesus' crucifixion.

---
In Maryland, where the lawsuit was filed and SGM was based until relocating to Kentucky last year, state law does not require the reporting of child abuse if such notification would disclose a communication protected by the clergy-penitent privilege.
However, Tchividjian said the focus of the law "is on perpetrators who may 'confess' and not victims or their family members who may disclose the abuse to their pastor."

Click for Full Article


Suicide and the Local Church - What Are You Doing to Prepare? - Suicide Prevention

From: Upper Michigan's Source

HARVEY -- Saint Louis the King Catholic Church in Harvey hosted a suicide prevention workshop Sunday.

The workshop highlighted the "Question, Persuade, Refer" program.

The Q-P-R program teaches how best to approach someone who might be suicidal, how best to keep them from committing suicide, and how to reach out to a professional with them

Click for Article


Security at Church: I thought this article illustrate a great idea for churches across America. What are we doing at our places of worship to prepare in advance for situations resulting in suicide?

Looking back over the last five years I am aware of 5-10 people in my immediate circle that have committed suicide. Several of these suicides have involved individuals and family members from my local church. The last suicide involved my childhood neighbor. He recently finished a tour of duty in the Middle East. He was a young kid in his twenties. I am not sure what happened or what he was specifically dealing with to feel that he had to claim his own life...But he did… A few years back a child of another lifelong family friend decided to kill himself. This case involved a history and battle with substance abuse.

Every time one of these tragedies occurred I recall countless people making statements of surprise, confusion and disbelief that this could happen. According to the most recent data from the CDC (2009) suicide is currently the 10th leading cause of death in the United States. Over 38,000 people committed suicide during the year of report. Looking at these numbers we need to realize that suicide is a reality and that it can affect those around us! We need to learn the sings and symptoms of someone who may be contemplating suicide. We need to ask the right questions. Persuade those around us that suicide is not the best options and then refer them to PROFESSIONAL help!

I want to highlight that last statement that I just made… I fully agree with the involvement of clergy in the personal affairs of their congregants. With that being said, medical conditions need the help of trained medical professional. Counseling and psychiatric support should be made available and be given by trained professionals. There are professional all around the country that share your religious beliefs and can tailor their medical treatment to meet your concerns. You should not discount the help of a professional in this situation. Clergy may have all of the right intentions; however, the majority of them DO NOT have the proper medical training to deal with these situations on their own.


Burglars Steal TVs - San Antonio Church

From: HSAT News

SAN ANTONIO - Burglars smashed out a window and busted into a building to steal flat screen TV's from a northside church.

The thieves scored three flat screens from the children's ministry area of the Friendship Church in the 14000 block of San Pedro.

Church leaders had just shown up for Sunday services when they discovered the break-in


Click for Article


Fire Damages Church - San Diego - Suspected Arsonist Arrested

From: Los Angeles Times

A 38-year-old man was arrested Sunday on suspicion of arson, burglary and committing a hate crime in an early-morning fire that did $250,000 damage to a church near El Cajon, the San Diego County Sheriff's Department said

Click for Article

Stolen Church Van Crashes into building

From: WAVY News

PORTSMOUTH, Va. (WAVY) - Portsmouth Police say a man stole a church van on Sunday then crashed it into a downtown building.

Jan Clark with the Portsmouth Police Department said an officer saw the van hit a pole in the 600 block of High Street and tried to stop the suspect. The suspect sped off and crashed into a building in the 800 block of High Street.

It happened all while Brigid White and her family were at mass at Saint Paul's Catholic Church. White says looking at the crash scene it's hard to believe this happened to her family's car.

Click for Article



Sunday, January 27

Panic Buttons in Public Schools - ePanic Button

From: NBC News

A local lawmaker has filed legislation for all public elementary and middle schools to have panic systems in schools.

State Rep. Christie Carpino, a Republican who represents Cromwell and Portland, has filed legislation that would require every public elementary and secondary school in Connecticut to install a panic system to protect against threats in the school.

Click for link


Security at Church: This is a perfect application for ePanic Button. ePainic Button allows you to install software on existing computers and reduced costly installation costs of hardwiring panic buttons.


Comments on weekly Think About It Post - Calvary Albuquerque Church

I originally included this just as a comment to the last post by Carl Chinn; however, after thought I felt that it would be good for everyone to see…
------------------
Wow… I posted an article yesterday regarding this incident (family murder by Nehemiah Griego); however, until I read though Carl Chinn’s weekly “Think About It” series I had no idea the extent that the church played into this event!

The news and mainstream media will concentrate on the family members that were killed by this tragedy. They will focus on the fact that an “assault rifle” was used in this crime. I am not saying that these things are important; however, I do think that his is only part of the story. What the press will not do is focus on the fact that it was the precise actions of the pastor and security director that possibly prevented the deaths of multiple other lives.

We all can lean a lot from the actions that occurred at Calvary Albuquerque Church!

Thank you Carl for this post!

Carl Chinn - Think About It - Nehemiah Griego

An Attack Sitting Ready in the Parking lot …
By. Carl Chinn 
 
I don’t know Vince Harrison, and have never been to the Calvary Albuquerque Church where he serves as Security Chief in Albuquerque, NM. Next time I am in Albuquerque I am going to look him up.
 
On Saturday morning, January 19th, Mr. Harrison was teaching dozens of Sunday School teachers on principles of incident readiness – including active shooter readiness. While we don’t know exactly what time 15-year-old Nehemiah Griego began wandering aimlessly around the church campus, it is quite possible that as Harrison was teaching that group, Griego had arrived.
 
Harrison was called back to the church after completing the readiness classes, as young Griego had been saying some disturbing things to a pastor. When Harrison began to interview the teen, his flags went up and he called the sheriff’s office. Harrison then drove Griego to their rural home to meet arriving law enforcement. There they found many Griego family members – Mom, Dad, a 9-year-old brother, and sisters 2 & 5 years old -- laying throughout the house shot to death.
 
The 15-year-old confessed to shooting all of them in their beds around 1:00 AM that day, except his dad. His dad had been working all night at a homeless shelter, so the teen had waited in ambush in the family bathroom for his dad to come home. When dad got there, he too was gunned down and killed.
 
Then Nehemiah had taken the assault rifle he used and another gun, loaded them in a van and headed to town where he planned to shoot some random people. His primary target was Wal-Mart, but he went instead to the church, where the van with the weapons sat ready in the parking lot. Church video confirmed he had wandered the campus for hours, speaking to many he knew from church.
 
Nehemiah confessed that he intended to “shoot people at random and eventually be killed while exchanging gunfire with law enforcement”. Thankfully he never carried out the rest of his attack plans.
 
Think About it:
  • You never know when someone enters your campus, or walks into your front door where their mind is at, or what kind of things they have encountered before being there at your place. 

  • While “intruder awareness” is a good readiness subject, attackers are often not an “intruder” at all – they are familiar faces. Nearly 1 in 4 (24.5%) of attackers in the DFI study were affiliated (member, past member, employee, or volunteer) with the ministry.

  • The Greigo family were “front row seat regulars” at the church. The elder Griego and Nehemiah had been on missions trips together. Nehemiah played drums in the church youth band. Harrison had known the family for 10 years. Griego’s dad had served as a pastor at the church.

  • The pastor that young Griego was talking to followed something (Instincts? Policies? Training?) to call the church security director. Does your church have that kind of culture with the counselors, pastors, teachers and staff? Please fix it if it isn’t in your culture – print this TAI off and give a copy to your church administrator and / or senior pastor – anyone who can start the staff talking to security when needed. Blame me – I made you do it.

  • When you feel an urge to prepare your people – follow that urge. While the incident you see in your mind isn’t how “it” will go down, readiness will help when “it” takes shape in front of you.

  • Harrison said it sent chills up his spine to later learn what kind of potential was present and waiting in the church parking lot. It sent chills up our spines as well brother.

  • Pray for this church as if they were your own. It could have been any of us, and this is a hard thing for them. More than 2,000 attended the funerals for this widely known and respected family. Pray for Harrison as well as he continues to lead his people in readiness.

Woman Sentenced for Stealing $86K from Church - Church Embezzlement

From: Connect Mid Missouri

(AP) -- ST. JOSEPH, Mo. (AP) -- A northwest Missouri woman is going to prison for stealing slightly more than $86,000 from a church where she worked...

Investigators said West stole the funds over a 16-month period starting in April 2011. She earned $27,000 a year at the church and spent the embezzled money for personal expenses.
Click for Article

Security at Church: What can your church do to protect against a similar crime occurring at your facility?  
  • Background Checks
  • Security Cameras
  • Two person rule to signing checks
  • Financial Audits
  • Enhanced procedures for processing offerings

Texas City Church Closes after Pastor's Arrest

From: ABC 13 News

TEXAS CITY, TX -- A church which had its pastor arrested for drug possession and family violence appears to have shut down

A bank has foreclosed on the Baypoint Community Church's property in Texas City. The news comes weeks after the church's pastor, Terry Gass, was accused of pushing his girlfriend out of his SUV. Police found him and the SUV in the church's parking lot in November.

Click for Article


Security at Church: The title of this story is what first caught my attention. I thought it was important to illustrate that this church had to close its doors based on the actions of its pastor. This story is sad for multiple reasons… the pastor allegedly assaulted his girlfriend, pushed her from a car and was found with drugs in his wallet. This makes me wonder what he was teaching his flock and how he was caring and pastoring. If you are a church leader do not think your actions will not affect the rest of your congregations. There is a reason that scripture holds pastors to a higher standard.


(James 3:1 ESV) “Not many of you should become teachers, my brothers, for you know that we who teach will be judged with greater strictness.”

1 Timothy Chapter 3 and Titus Chapter 1 both talk about a pastor being “above reproach”.

Breaking News! Police capture fugitive in Church Basement - Armed Standoff

From: Salisbury Post

SALISBURY — Fugitive John Knox Bridges surrendered to Salisbury police Saturday night after an armed standoff at a Maupin Avenue church that he had been attending for about a year.

Bridges had barricaded himself inside the church basement with a gun, according to authorities. About a dozen police officers with a K-9 surrounded the back of the church, some brandishing weapons during the standoff. No shots were fired

Click for Article


Photo from Salisbury Post

Stealing from GOD! - New York Post

From: New York Post

Two busted in Sandy-relief theft at Staten Island church...

It’s unholy!
Two fiends were arrested after they were caught stealing supplies donated to Hurricane Sandy victims from a Staten Island church, cops said yesterday.

Click for Article

Houston Church Parishioners Stop Thief

From: ABC 13 News

HOUSTON (KTRK) -- The suspect in a southwest Houston church burglary was in the hospital Saturday night after being caught by parishioners...

Police say a suspect used a sledge hammer the bust through the wall and steal several band instruments.

Members living nearby went inside the building to inspect the damage and found one suspect hiding in the ceiling.

Click for Full Story




Saturday, January 26

When Guns Stopped a Rampage - ePanic Button

Security at Church: This is an excellent article from Johnny Lee the President of ePanic Button. The mainstream media has been overflowing with reports of why guns are bad. Johnny does a great job sharing the other side of the story!



When Guns Stopped a Rampage
By: Johnny Lee

In the wake of the tragedy at the Newton, CT school shooting, there has been a call for more gun control laws to prevent similar events. The logic is if a person intent on mass violence were unable to obtain a firearm, violence and shootings can be prevented. Citizens and law makers want to restrict who can obtain a firearm, specifically people with mental health issues. A fine point involves types of firearms and accessories such as large capacity magazines. Even the generic term “assault weapon” has conflicting definitions for those familiar with firearms. Regardless of the weapon’s appearance, all semi-automatic firearms have been identified by some as too dangerous for the general public.

But the heart of the gun control argument is there are too many guns, and adherents point to the growing number of reports that provide timelines, graphs and catalogs of workplace and school shootings. Opponents of gun control measures state that readily available firearms can actually stop these events, but lack a similar collection of accounts when armed citizens ended rampages. This following short list does not include cases of armed citizens stopping robberies, which kill many more people than mass shootings.


December 2012, Clackamas, OR – Clackamas Town Center Mall
As the Mall shooting in Oregon is still a current news topic, one story that has not garnered much attention is why the shooter, identified as Jacob Roberts, ended the rampage to take his own life. Nick Meli had a concealed carry permit and was one of the shoppers when the shooting began. Meli confronted Roberts with his sidearm but did not fire because a bystander could have been hit. Roberts might have killed himself when he realized he faced an armed individual. While impossible to ever determine definitively, the assailant may have feared being wounded and did not want to survive to face court and public outrage (video of interview).

August 2012, San Antonio, TX – Bonham Academy
While focus is on school safety, there is also the case of a woman who had just dropped off her child at school when her ex-partner, who had a history of abuse, confronted her and began arguing. She had just filed for divorce the week before, and as common in abusive relationships, he was not going to let her leave him. His anger escalated to the point where he began stabbing her. An armed citizen with a concealed carry permit drew his gun and stopped the assailant.


January 2009, Houston, TX – Texas Components Corp
Julie Parker entered the technology company where her father worked carrying a bow and what appeared to be a handgun. She shot one worker in the chest with an arrow and then pointed the fake firearm at other workers. Two employees were armed and returned fire, striking her and forcing her to retreat to a restroom. She aimed her bow at arriving police officers, causing them to shoot her again. Parker survived to face charges for the assault.

December 2007, Colorado Springs, CO - New Life ChurchMatthew Murray killed two people at a missionary center before traveling 80 miles to his second target, an affiliated church. Police described him as being armed with an assault rifle and two handguns with as many as 1,000 rounds of ammunition. He killed two teenage sisters and wounded their father in the church parking lot before entering the church building. Jeanne Assam, a volunteer guard and parishioner, fired her own weapon at Murray, ending the rampage by killing him.

July 2006, Memphis, TN – Schnucks Grocery StoreAn employee, upset over a workplace dispute, grabbed a knife and wounded eight co-workers. As he chased one employee out into the parking lot, the manager of a neighboring business in the same shopping center intervened. According to an interview with the manager, “When he turned around and saw my pistol, he threw the knife away, put his hands up and got on the ground. He saw my gun and that was pretty much it.”

May 2008, Winnemucca, NV – Players Bar and Grill
A man entered a crowded bar looking for members of a family with whom he held a grudge. Ernesto Villagomez found and killed two young men before another patron pulled out his firearm to shoot and kill Villagomez. Although the intervening patron was initially apprehended, he was released after Humboldt County District Attorney Russell Smith determined the shooting was justifiable homicide.

August 2005, Albuquerque, NM – Walmart
Again we have a customer, not an employee, intervening to save a victim as seen in this video. A female employee was working behind the counter when her ex-partner approached her with a knife and began stabbing her numerous times. A co-worker tried to intervene, but a customer rescued her. The 72-year-old customer had a concealed carry permit and a 9 mm handgun that he used to kill the assailant. The victim survived the assault.

Whether a firearm is the cause or cure for senseless violence, real prevention is based on establishing communities and relations that limit grievances and frustrations assailants perceive and experience. If a threat has been identified, it needs to be reported and the appropriate interventions put into place. The concern on the actual crisis may be short-sighted if it is the only focus.

Link to ePainic Button


Security Training for Seminaries and Colleges

According to Wikipedia there are over 180 evangelical seminaries and theological colleges in the United States. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_evangelical_seminaries_and_theological_colleges) A recent report from Catholic Culture reports that “the number of {Catholic} seminarians in the United States has risen to 3,608--the highest number since the early 1990s--with some seminaries experiencing their highest enrollment in decades”.(http://www.catholicculture.org/news/headlines/index.cfm?storyid=12506)

I have included the above statistics to illustrate that higher education in American related to churches and religious institutions is a booming business. Most churches in America require religious leaders to not only have a bachelor’s degree, but to complete a graduate level seminary program. After conducting research from multiple seminaries I have yet to find one school to offer a dedicated course in safety and security for churches. I encourage you to email me if I am wrong and you know of a seminary that does offer this as a requirement for their program.

In today’s society you cannot read the news without seeing stories everyday regarding churches that are facing trails related to safety and security. These issues range from sex abuse, theft, murder, deceit, coercion, fires, burglary, rape, laundering, computer crime, and more... Many times when a church experiences one of these trials it can lead to the collapse of the institution. Not to mention the lives that have been hurt from the experiences.

I ask the question, “Why do more seminaries not take this topic seriously and address it as important?"


I was recently interviewed by the Columbus Dispatch and I was asked the question, “What do I think the biggest challenge to churches is in getting them to see the need for security?” My answer was “Education at the seminary level! It all starts there!”

If you are reading this from a college, university or seminary and are interested in putting together a curriculum for your school, send me an email and lets talk about how we can make that happen. brian@securityatchurch.com

Counter Terror Forum - Top National Security Resource

Retired U.S. Air Force Colonel Jennifer Hesterman was one of my original supporters in starting this website. I recall having conversations with her regarding the details in setting up a blog when she decided to start the Counter Terror Forum. Colonel Hesterman has since been recognized as one of the top online resources for Terrorism and National Security information. SecurityatChurch.com wanted to take a moment to recognize her for her accomplishments to the security industry!




From: Master of Homeland Security

National Security is a massive business globally, with enormous corporations constructing more powerful war machines and governments spending billions to achieve or maintain military dominance. But the security of any nation depends on so much more than just the number of bombs they can drop or their ability to influence political conflicts on the other side of the world. Advanced software that can keep classified information locked down against malicious hackers is a crucial part of the national security infrastructure now. The Transportation Security Administration employs thousands to keep commercial flight passengers safe, and the populace is ever more vocal about their discontentment with “security” efforts that fail too often and appear to infringe upon individual rights. National security is a gray area, and there are scholars, computer experts, lawyers, politicians, and security offers working to clarify what is necessary, what is legal, and what is inevitable in the struggle to keep citizens safe

Click for list of top 100 National Security Resources

Security at Church: My only issue with this webiste is that securityatchurch.com has not yet made it on the list...

Counter Terror Forum - Protecting Yourself During An Active Shooter Event

A friend and colleague of mine runs a blog called the "Counter Terror Forum" This is a great website to look at if you are seeking information for current events around the world involving terrorist events.

Counter Terror Forum: http://www.counterterrorforum.com/


"This forum will highlight items of interest regarding threats to our national security: terrorism, transnational crime, organized crime, and gangs. The site will also serve to support the law enforcement and intelligence community with open source reporting and analysis. This is a scholarly blog, free of opinion or political views. Your comments that add to this dialogue are welcome!"

Last week The Counter Terror Forum features a great post realated to protecting yourself during an active shooter event...

From: Counter Terror Forum

Unfortunately, the number of active shooter events is rising in our country and around the world.

Please watch and share this outstanding video about what to do during a situation involving an active shooter, produced by the Houston PD. The video is realistic and can be upsetting, but educates all of us on the best steps to take during a shooting event.

Based on your situation, choose one of the following actions, have a plan and commit:

Run - Hide - Fight


Click on Link for Video from the Counter Terror Forum

Gun Laws - Church - Gun Policy - Church Security

Since the tragic shooting in Newtown, CT gun policy has been on the top of the agenda for both Washington and local state legislators. Based on the political makeup of your state new legislation has been introduced to support gun rights, as well as, to restrict the constitutional rights of gun owners. Below are highlights from a few states that had pending legislation that could apply o places of worship.

From: The New Republic

Georgia
Charles Gregory, a freshman state representative that the Atlantic dubbed “one of the most zealously pro-gun legislators in America,” introduced four bills that would largely obliterate any restrictions on carrying firearms in Georgia. The bills would declare that “evil resides in the heart of the individual, not in material objects” and would allow people to carry guns pretty much anywhere, including college campuses and churches. It would also prohibit the governor from suspending guns sales during an emergency. Gregory represents a district that includes Kennesaw, the only place in America where it is required for households to own at least one gun.


Virginia
A bill proposed by Del. Bob Marshall would require school districts to designate at least one qualified person to carry a concealed weapon on school grounds. Gov. Bob McDonnell has said there should be a discussion on whether people with concealed-carry permits should be allowed to carry firearms in schools, but he has not gone as far as saying it should be required. Meanwhile, two Northern Virginia lawmakers have introduced legislation that would close the state’s gun-show loophole, which allows unlicensed arm dealers to sell at gun shows without conducting background checks.

Security at Church: How will this apply to your facility if it runs a school? It will be important to see how this will apply to you if you are renting out a school facility to hold your church service.

Florida
Two lawmakers are pushing a bill that would allow state agencies and local governments to decide whether they want to prohibit concealed firearms inside public buildings and at some public events. Currently, a concealed-carry license allows Floridians to carry a weapon in most places in the state. The law is likely to face resistance in the GOP-controlled legislature, and some legislators are already arguing that the restrictions proposed by the bill violate the Second Amendment.

Link to Article

Checklist for Security Cameras - CCTV

Are you thinking about installing security cameras at your church facility? If you are not then maybe you should be…
 
Security access control systems and security cameras can be very confusing to the untrained professional. It is important to understand what you need for your facility to prevent you from purchasing the wrong system for your facility. Securityatchurh.com can assist you will the selection of equipment for your facility. Feel free to email me for more information brian@securityatchurch.com.
 
Below is a list of questions that should be answered when selecting security cameras. The $499 special from Wal-Mart or Costco may not be appropriate for your facility. Along the same train of thought you may not need to install a military or government spec system at your place of worship. Seek a professional’s advice before you spend money on the wrong system!
 
Visit www.CCTVConsult.com to view the answers to these questions.
  • Should I purchase B/W or Color?
  • What basic equipment is necessary to start video surveillance?
  • What if I need more than one camera?
  • Should I use Hidden Cameras?
  • Should I Placing cameras indoors, outdoors or both?
  • What are infrared cameras and are they necessary?
  • What is an ideal angle for a lens to cover?
  • What is the difference between Vari-focal vs. Zoom Lens?
  • Explain Manual Iris vs. Auto Iris?
  • Do I need pinhole lens?
  • CCTV Monitor vs. Standard TV, which should I use?
  • CRT vs. LCD Monitor?
  • What are monitor Input Connectors?
  • Should I use Wireless vs. Wired Transmission?
  • Explain 12VDC vs. 24VAC?
  • Should I use battery operated cameras or hard wired?
  • Should I use motion detection?
  • What is Pan, Tilt, and Zoom control?
  • Should I purchase Time Lapse VCR vs. DVR (Digital Video Recorder)?
  • How does Remote Surveillance over the Network work?
  • What is HD CCTV System?

Friday, January 25

Victory Christian Center - Tulsa - Church Sex Abuse

From: SF Gate News

TULSA, Okla. (AP) — Two of the five Tulsa megachurch employees accused of waiting two weeks to report the rape of a 13-year-old girl on ministry grounds are due in court for a pre-trial hearing.

John and Charica Daugherty — the son and daughter-in-law of the co-founder and pastor at the 17,000-member Victory Christian Center — are expected to appear in district court Friday.

Read more: http://www.sfgate.com/news/crime/article/2-in-Tulsa-church-abuse-case-due-in-court-4222746.php#ixzz2J0iUZXRW


Security at Church: This is another report of sex abuse related to a mega-church. Two Pastors have been charged and required to report to court for NOT reporting the crime in a timely fashion.

First Presbyterian Church - Houston - Votes to leave the Presbyterian Church USA

From: KUHF News

One of the largest Presbyterian churches in the country, located here in Houston, is voting this Sunday on whether or not to enter into a discussion of what its ultimate affiliation should be with its denomination — the Presbyterian Church USA

The long, brick church, First Presbyterian Church, Houston, sits in the heart of the museum district. It's a historic church with around 3,600 members. Senior Pastor Jim Birchfield says one reason the church is considering having a larger conversation is a theological drift between his church's mission and the larger body.

Click for More


Update: Arkansas Lawmakers Advance Guns in Church Bill

From: Insurance Journal

An Arkansas Senate panel advanced a proposal this week to allow concealed handguns in churches, but rejected an amendment to require places of worship to carry more insurance if firearms are permitted.

A House committee also endorsed a resolution encouraging government officials to not infringe on gun rights, the first among several bills aimed at loosening firearms restrictions in the newly Republican-controlled state Legislature.


Click for more

Pope blesses Twitter, Facebook to spread Church teachings

From: CNET

The pope has friended the online social networks in a big way.

Pope Benedict XIV, who only recently joined Twitter himself, is calling on his followers to use social-networking sites such as Facebook, Tumblr, and Pinterest to spread their faith to nonbelievers.

Click for More

Security at Church: It's official... The Pope has now endorsed social media... Now I just need to work on getting him to tweet this webiste!



Charge Against Mega-Church Pastor Dropped - World Changers Church

From: AJC News

A simple battery charge lodged last June against mega-church pastor Creflo Dollar Jr. after a scuffle with his daughter has been dismissed, Fayette County State Court Solicitor Jamie K. Inagawa confirmed Thursday.

Dollar, one of the best-known adherents of a prosperity gospel, recently completed a three-month, pre-trial intervention program that allowed him to avoid court. He was required to enroll in an anger management program, report to a probation officer and pay $1,072 in court fees, the solicitor said.

Click for More

Accused Teen, Kills Familly then Goes to Church

From: Fox News

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. – The New Mexico teen accused of killing his family and plotting to randomly gun down Wal-Mart shoppers spent much of the day after the early morning slayings at his church, wandering the campus as dozens of Sunday school teachers were being trained on how to deal with a shooter, a security official said.


Click to Read More

Security at Church: Do you really know who is walking through your facility and what their intentions are?

Thursday, January 24

Safety & Security Seminar Gilbert, AZ

From: AZ Central

AMH Public Safety & Security Service Group will present a Refuse to be a Victim seminar 4-8 p.m. Jan. 30 at Gilbert Community Church, 44 N. Oak St., Gilbert.

THE WORKSHOP
The workshop is designed for people 13 and older and teaches methods to avoid dangerous situations and prevent criminal confrontations. Topics include personal safety, home and auto safety, travel security and technology security.

SIGNING UP
The seminar is open to the public and costs $25. Pre-registration closes Friday. Participants will receive materials to help make a safety plan. Register: 480-279-3609 or www.amhpublicsafety.com.

ABOUT
AMH provides crime prevention, security consultation, and firearms training for civilians, private security, law enforcement, and military. Information: CEO Michael Hopkins at 480-279-3609.


Link

Arkansas Pastors Discuss Need for Guns in Churches

From: Arkansas Matters

As legislators discuss allowing churches to determine whether people with concealed carry permits can bring guns into their sanctuaries, pastors are giving their take on the controversial proposal.

Moments before families filled the pews at St. Mark Baptist Church for Wednesday night service, Pastor Phillip L. Pointer said he understands the need for more security in the nation's sanctuaries. His church utilizes security staff to monitor the premises during services, but will only authorize police officers to carry weapons during worship service.


Click for More

Church Security Event - Porter Valley, CA - National Church Security Summit

Church Security Event
WASHINGTON, Jan. 15, 2013 /Christian Newswire/ -- The Security Executive Council is pleased to announce that they will be working with Shepherd of the Hills Church in Porter Valley, CA in presenting the National Church Security Summit held on January 28th, 2013

"Churches are not immune from some of the same risks faced by secular organizations -- violent attacks, theft, arson, burglaries, and fraud to name a few" says Mark Lex, Security Executive Council and lead emeritus faculty of the Council's faith-based security practice. "Recent tragic events within the church have once again raised awareness to all new levels in protecting our sanctuaries and people."

"This year's summit is a bit different in that attendees will learn the basics of security and then be given an on-going opportunity in building their own resilience plans by working with peers and experts in Faith-Based Organization Working Groups™" says Ty Richmond, Sr. Vice-President of Security at Sony Pictures and one of the event's key organizers. The keynote speaker for the event is Jeffrey Hawkins who is the Founder and former Principal of the Christian Security Network. Hawkins has consulted hundreds of churches on the topic of church security and risk resiliency and is often looked upon by print and broadcast media as an expert in this area. Hawkins has served as an Adjunct Professor and authored the book "Introduction to Security and Emergency Planning for Faith Based Organizations."

Event registration is $59 and will be held at Shepherd of the Hills Church in Porter Valley, CA from 8 to 5:30 p.m. on Monday, January 28th, 2013. Register at
www.lasecuritysummit.com.

Note: I do not have any first hand information regarding this event or organization. This information is being passed on for informational purposes. If you have any contact with this group please pass on any details.

Fargo Church Comments on Armed Guards in Church

From: Grand Forks Herald

On any given Sunday, a handful of members of the Bethel Evangelical Free Church in Fargo may be wearing a black shirt and an earpiece — much like a federal agent.

They may have an array of medical or law enforcement training — some are retired police officers or military members — who provide security for upwards of 2,000 churchgoers that attend every week.


A select few may even be strapped with a concealed weapon under their Sunday best.

Senior Pastor Matthew St. John said Wednesday the program, known as Gatekeepers, has been very successful since it was implemented four years ago and has been well received by the Fargo Police Department — who has provided some training for the program, he said.

Click for Article

Convicted ex-pastor faces trial in first wife's death

From: USA Today


{TROUDSBURG, Pennsylvania (AP) — A former Methodist clergyman convicted of bludgeoning his second wife to death in 2008 now faces trial on whether he killed his first wife, too.

Arthur Schirmer was convicted Tuesday of first-degree murder and evidence tampering after a jury in the Poconos concluded he clubbed Betty Schirmer on the head with a crowbar, then loaded her into their PT Cruiser and staged a low-speed accident in an effort to conceal the crime.}

Read More: http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2013/01/23/convicted-us-pastor-faces-trial-in-wife-1s-death/1857635/

Wednesday, January 23

Maryland Law related to Child Abuse and Neglect

At the request of several of my readers I am including specific information related to recent articles from this past week. I am not a lawyer and this information is NOT intended as legal advice. Please view The Child Welfare Information Gateway for additional information or seek council from a legal professional.

 (Information from https://www.childwelfare.gov/systemwide/laws_policies/state/index.cfm?event=stateStatutes.processSearch)

Maryland
Child Abuse and Neglect - Clergy as Mandatory Reporters of Child Abuse and Neglect
Citation: Md. Code Ann. Fam. Law § 5-705(a)(1), (a)(3) (LexisNexis through 2009 Reg. Sess.)

Except as provided below, notwithstanding any other provision of law, including a law on privileged communications, a person other than a health practitioner, police officer, or educator or human service worker who has reason to believe that a child has been subjected to abuse or neglect shall notify the local department or the appropriate law enforcement agency.

A minister of the gospel, clergy member, or priest of an established church of any denomination is not required to provide notice [when they have reason to believe that a child has been subjected to abuse or neglect] if the notice would disclose matter in relation to any communication that is protected by the clergy-penitent privilege and:

• The communication was made to the minister, clergy member, or priest in a professional character in the course of discipline enjoined by the church to which the minister, clergy member, or priest belongs.

• The minister, clergy member, or priest is bound to maintain the confidentiality of that communication under canon law, church doctrine, or practice.



Mandatory Reporters of Child Abuse and Neglect - Reporting by Other Persons
Citation: Fam. Law § 5-705

Any other person who has reason to believe that a child has been subjected to abuse or neglect must report.

An individual may notify the local department or the appropriate law enforcement agency if the individual has reason to believe that a parent, guardian, or caregiver of a child allows the child to reside with or be in the regular presence of an individual, other than the child's parent or guardian, who is registered as a child sex offender and, based on additional information, poses a substantial risk of sexual abuse to the child.


Security at Church: The legal system in American can be very complicated and confusing. This is the reason that Lawyers spend years in school learning how to defend law and the legal system. It appears that the State of Maryland has a "catch all" law related to the mandatory reporting of child abuse and neglect even though it appears that clergy are exempt under the clergy specific legislation.

State Laws Regarding Reporting of Child Abuse and Neglect

Please go to the Child Welfare Information Gateway for specific details about your state laws. Based off of information from the Child Welfare Information Gateway I have attempted to summarize the information. I have only included the major categories of law. Within each category are sub-categories that change how the laws are applied between states. The word “privilege” refers to the clergy penitent privilege.


Clergy included as mandated reporters
Privilege granted but limited to pastoral communications: Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Illinois, Louisiana, Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, North Dakota, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Vermont, Wisconsin

Privilege denied in cases of suspected child abuse or neglect: New Hampshire, West Virginia

Privilege not addressed in the reporting laws: Connecticut, Mississippi


Clergy not included as mandated reporters but may be included with "any person" designation
Privilege granted but limited to pastoral communications: Delaware, Florida, Idaho, Kentucky, Maryland, Utah, Wyoming

Privilege denied in cases of suspected child abuse or neglect: North Carolina, Oklahoma, Rhode Island, Texas

Privilege not addressed in the reporting laws: Indiana, Nebraska, New Jersey, Tennessee, Puerto Rico

Neither clergy nor "any person" included as mandated reporters
Privilege granted but limited to pastoral communications: Virginia, Washington

Privilege not addressed in the reporting laws: Alaska, American Samoa, District of Columbia, Georgia, Guam, Hawaii, Iowa, Kansas, New York, Northern Mariana Islands, South Dakota, Virgin Islands


Child Welfare Information Gateway
https://www.childwelfare.gov/systemwide/laws_policies/statutes/clergymandated.cfm

Clergy, Pastor, Priest - Penitent Privilege

A common question when talking about abuse in the church is related to Clergy/Pastor/Priest - Penitent Privilege. This privilege differs from state to state. The below definition should help in your understanding when discussing this topic.


Clergy, Pastor, Priest - Penitent Privilege
From: USLeagal.com

The priest-penitent privilege protects communications between a person and a clergy member acting in a professional capacity as a spiritual advisor from disclosure. A clergyman uses the priest-penitent privilege to refuse to divulge confidential information received from a person during confession or similar exchanges.

Movements to repeal the priest-penitent privilege have been mounted in some states. In the wake of the awful child abuse scandals, several legislatures throughout the country are considering laws which would require the clergy to inform authorities of any cases of suspected child abuse.





Child Abuse State Specific Resource Information

The below website is the best resource that I have found related to laws associated with state specific issues related child abuse and neglect. This site addresses state specific laws related to clergy and their legal responsibility to report child abuse and neglect. Clergy are NOT required to report abuse and neglect in all states. It is important to know the laws regarding your local state statute.

Child Welfare Information Gateway
https://www.childwelfare.gov/systemwide/laws_policies/state/can/


From: Child Welfare Information Gateway

Every State, the District of Columbia, American Samoa, Guam, the Northern Mariana Islands, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands have statutes that identify persons who are required to report child maltreatment under specific circumstances.
Approximately 26 States currently include members of the clergy among those professionals specifically mandated by law to report known or suspected instances of child abuse or neglect. In approximately 18 States and Puerto Rico, any person who suspects child abuse or neglect is required to report. This inclusive language appears to include clergy but may be interpreted otherwise.

New Sexual Abuse Claims Against Catholic Cardinal in Los Angeles

From: The Washington Post


{Cardinal Roger M. Mahony, for more than 25 years the savvy shepherd of the Roman Catholic Church in Los Angeles, retired nearly two years ago to a renovated yellow house behind his childhood parish, pledging to stay in the spotlight by continuing to fight for the rights of immigrants.

But the cardinal now finds himself in a most unwelcome spotlight, one that he sought for years to avoid. Internal church personnel files released this week as part of a civil court case reveal that he and his top adviser knowingly shielded priests accused of child sexual abuse from law enforcement. In one letter, the cardinal ordered a clergyman to stay in New Mexico, where he had been sent for treatment, to avoid the possibility of being reported to the police in California.}

Read More: http://www.nytimes.com/2013/01/23/us/mahony-shielded-abusive-priests-documents-show.html?_r=0

Security at Church: I came across this article this morning. As I read through the story, my attention was drawn to the fact that the charges against Cardinal Mahony were NOT related to his direct actions in sexual abuse; however, related to the accusation that he shielded priests and their actions from the police.

Unfortunately, I am starting to see a pattern related to this topic. This is a similar complaint to the story we shared regarding The Rock Church in California. It is also similar to some of the allegations against Sovereign Grace Ministries in Louisville, KY (formerly Gaithersburg, MD). This begs the questions “where are we going wrong within our churches”? How can we prevent this from happening in the future?

As I have stated before on this website, my goal is to shed light on events happening in churches across the country and provide my thoughts along with resources on how to protect your local church from similar events happening at your place of worship. I have no intention of highlighting any one specific church, denomination or religion. Whether it is a Catholic Parish, Baptist Church or Non-denominational place of worship we can all learn from the experiences of others.

Tuesday, January 22

The church is a safe place... Or is it?

One thing that Carl Chinn’s post this week has proven to us is that crime in churches is on the rise. Despite this fact the overwhelming majority of churchgoers still think that their church is a safe place. Next Sunday when you go to your church, I want you to do a little exercise. Set your alarm clock 30 minutes early and try to be one of he first people to get to church. Sit in the back of the auditorium with your bible or a book and pretend (or do it for real) that you are reading. (I am suggesting that you do this to not draw attention to yourself as you are observing the patterns of others) Next I want you to watch as people start to show up for church. Take note of how many people walk into the church and place an item on the chair or pew and then walk away from it. If my hypothesis is correct you will notice women walking in and dropping their purses and then walking away from them. You will notice people drop bags that contain computers and tablets. Some of these people will be gone from their items for an extended amount of time, while others will simple stray for a moment…

Now let me take the same situation and place you in a different perceived atmosphere…

Your view of this situation may change slightly based on what part of the country you are in and the demographics and crime statistics of the area. With that being said the principle behind my points should still stand strong. Imagine yourself attending a concert for your favorite musical group. If you found yourself in that same situation would you walk into that environment, place your purse or $2000 computer on your chair and walk back out to the main lobby to get a snack? I would have to guess that that majority of the people reading this website would not leave their valuable items unattended…

So why do you or others you know do it every week at church? The reason is that they feel that the church is a safe place and that “it won’t happen here”. If you have been reading this website of any small length of time you will know that “it can happen here”. Crimes happen everyday at local churches just like yours and mine! Criminals are now viewing churches as “soft targets”. Criminals are purposefully attending churches to take advantage of targets like you. Individuals need to be aware of these things and not assume that the church is a safe place!

By no means am I saying that you should be scared attending church; however, I am saying that you should not put your guard down just because of the four walls that are surrounding you! Awareness is key!

2012 in Review by Carl Chinn


Think About It - Carl Chinn
2012 in review

As you may have noticed, I do not try to be the breaking news of deadly force incidents – that just isn’t my calling. It always takes a few days for the real story to work its way out. Since the intention of {www.carlchinn.com} is to provide helpful insight from lessons learned, it is incumbent to get the stories as correct as possible in a fair time frame.

All the 2012 stories are in now, and it was a bad year for violence at faith-based organizations. Here is an overview of 2012;


· There were 135 deadly force incidents discovered (the highest of any year yet). Of those 135 incidents, 39 (28.9%) were an attack which resulted in the death of others (ARDO’s).

· In those 39 ARDO’s, 56 victims lost their lives.

· Of those 56 victims, 40 (71.4%) were Intentional current or former participants (member, past member, employee, guest, volunteer) of the ministry. 16 (such as stories from 12/30, 11/11, 8/16 & 8/7 as examples) were victims of a homicide that took place at the ministry, but had no known victim connection to the ministry.

· 19 aggressors (counting suicides) died in these incidents, bringing the total violent deaths at faith-based organizations in 2012 to 75 – the most I have ever seen in one year – by a long way. This was nearly a 39% increase from the previous most violent year (2009) in which we saw 54 violent deaths at FBO’s.

· As typical with the multi-year study, nearly 90% of the attackers in 2012 were not stopped by others – they stopped when they were ready to stop. There were only 2 stopped in the process by responding active-duty law enforcement (the Greater Sweethome Missionary Baptist killer on 10/29/12 in Texas, and the Sikh Temple shooter in Wisconsin on 8/5/12). 3 were stopped by church members (though one of those was an off-duty officer and one was a former officer).

· The most common weapon was a firearm (55.9%), followed by stabbing weapons (17.9%).

· It was once again evident that the exterior of the buildings is most volatile. Again it was 2 to 1 more likely that an incident would happen outside than inside.

· Catholic and Baptist places tied for the most incidents – each had 23 experiences on US soil this year.


Think About it:
  • Though a gun is still the most likely weapon any church will face if there is an attack, there are still a lot of folks (and state laws) who don’t understand the need for armed security. As we all know, the best way to stop a bad person with a gun is a good person with a gun.
  • There was an average of 1.44 people killed in each ARDO. The average killed in attacks that were stopped by congregants in place was 1.33. The average killed by the time responding law enforcement got there was 3.5. This rating is consistent through the years – fewer people die when there is someone ready in the building. Year after year if the shooter isn’t stopped until law enforcement arrives, the death toll is going to be high. Yet there are still many who simply think 911 will suffice in a pinch.
  • Though slightly off-topic, I want to encourage all of you to watch the Saturday Bulgarian assassination attempt. The suddenness of the attack should be a real eye-opener to all protection agents. Gavin de Becker’s book on the subject -- Just Two Seconds – is a very good read on this subject as well.

Monday, January 21

Church Security in Mississippi Strikes Balance

Note: An inter-city church faces different challenges with physical security. This security upgrade at a church in Mississippi is a great example of simple changes that can make a big difference.

From: dJournal.com

To gain entrance to the First Presbyterian Church in downtown Tupelo, visitors must approach the door beside the chapel.

There they will find a brushed steel call box, mounted with a speaker and a video, that may look out of place against the church’s castle-like architecture. Through the call box, the visitor is able to call the church office to disengage the electronic lock and allow them inside.

“We want to keep the church safe, the same way as a household,”




Photo from Linked Website

Read more:
Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal - Church security in Northeast Mississippi strikes balance

Sunday, January 20

Background Check Resource

In today’s world, the Church has experienced increasing physical opposition and hostility. These challenges are forcing Christian leaders to consider how to react in a biblical manner—fully embracing God’s sovereignty while simultaneously acknowledging and fulfilling their responsibilities as overseers. Because the local church must be faithful to meet together (Heb. 10:25), we must consider the wisdom of proper safety and security measures when assembling in today’s reality. (Statement from Southern Baptist Theological Seminary)

One way to accomplish this is to properly screen volunteers and employees who work at your facility. This is especially important for those who may be working with children. I have established a partnership with a company called IntelliCorp. After researching many of the background companies on the market I found that IntelliCorp offers one of the best products and the best price. Below is information about ItelliCorp and a listing of products that they offer. 

www.SecurityatChurch.com has set up a special program with IntelliCorp. For more information on products you can contact Alan Larkin Directly at 1-800-539-3717 ext. 109 or via web atwww.intellicorp.net 

Promotion Code: SAC001

Sovereign Grace Ministry Abuse Articles

From: The Washington Post

Suit accuses Sovereign Grace Ministries of covering up alleged child sexual abuse

A Montgomery County Circuit Court lawsuit accuses past and current leaders of a 100-church evangelical denomination of covering up sexual abuse of minors, forcing small children to “forgive” abusers and ostracizing families who wouldn’t hide the alleged crimes.

The lawsuit filed Friday adds more accusers and more accused to a complaint filed last fall against Sovereign Grace Ministries, a movement founded in the 1970s in Gaithersburg. Among those named now is co-founder Larry Tomczak, who was a key figure in the movement’s early years but split from it bitterly in the 1990s.


Read More: 
http://www.washingtonpost.com/local/lawsuit-accuses-neo-calvinist-church-movement-leaders-of-child-sexual-abuse/2013/01/14/6e671764-5e94-11e2-90a0-73c8343c6d61_story.html


From: WJLA ABC 7

Sovereign Grace: More allege church hid sex abuse

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) - Five people have joined a Maryland lawsuit that claims a Kentucky-based evangelical church group covered up allegations of sexual abuse against children and failed to alert police and shield children from known sexual predators.

The new plaintiffs join three women who filed a civil lawsuit against Sovereign Grace Ministries in October. The suit accuses church leadership of encouraging parents of alleged victims to refrain from reporting abuses to police and creating "a culture in which sexual predators were protected from accountability and victims were silenced."

Read more: http://www.wjla.com/articles/2013/01/sovereign-grace-more-allege-church-hid-sex-abuse-84100.html#ixzz2IWoqpe2l



Rock Church Faces Child Sex Abuse Lawsuit

Not to make things worse; however, it looks like our friends at Rock Church in San Diego are now facing their own allegations... This should be a wake up call to all churches that we need to do more to protest our children and church members!!


From: UT San Diego

SAN DIEGO — A lawsuit has been filed against San Diego Rock Church Academy, alleging that three young girls who attended the school were molested by one of their teachers.

The families of the minors also contend that despite being notified in February 2009 that the teacher had been seen with two students on his lap in a darkened classroom during “movie day,” authorities at the school did not call police or conduct an investigation to determine whether any students had been molested.

The teacher, who taught Spanish, no longer works at the school. His employment was terminated in the spring of 2010 after a parent notified the school principal that her daughter had been molested in class, according to the complaint filed this week.

Original Blog Post on Internal Sovereign Grace Ministry Connect Website

Note: Please see previous post for explanation of below

Circa 2010


I noticed that there were some previous blog posts on “chops” regarding the topic of background checks. This is an important issue and good place to start this week’s security post. 

Many states require background checks for anyone who will be working with children. It is important for your church to have an application process for selecting and vetting individuals to work in children’s ministry. These laws normally always apply to both employees of the church, as well as, volunteers. Part of the application process should include a questionnaire regarding past criminal history. You want to be sensitive and provide an environment for this questionnaire to be private and confidential. Many people are ashamed of their sinful past. Even if they have turned from their sins, many still do not want to open up the door to the past issues of their former life. You want to respect there privacy; however, you also need to stress the importance of them being open and honest when it comes to the legal ramification of a criminal past. The Lord may have forgiven them; however, the many legal systems have not. Regardless of forgiveness and change some convicted crimes legally require disclosure.

The application and questionnaire should just be a starting point. As mentioned before many states require a background check to be conducted by both the state and the FBI to allow someone to work with children. This may sound like it is a big and confusing task. Do not be alarmed! It is easier than you think.

Some states will allow the person wishing to be checked to initiate the process on their own by going to the local or state police station. The police station will finger print them on the spot. Most of the time there is a preprinted card with a background questionnaire on the back of the form. This form is then sent into the state and for a small fee, normally paid by the person submitting the application. The state will return a full background check to the person noted on the form. Please be aware of an important detail related to how this normally works. Fingerprint background checks only investigate if a person has been convicted of a crime in the past. It will not give you a detail report of every incident they have been involved in. A fingerprint based background check also does not involve interviewing and questioning an applicant, their friends, relatives, or co-workers. This is simply a check to identify prior convictions of a crime. It is also critical to note that some jurisdictions only require a state level fingerprint background check. This means that if a person has committed a crime in another state it may not show up on the check. If your church is going to require a fingerprint background check than make sure that it also includes the National FBI check as well.

You might be tempted to think that this is a little overkill. In my opinion and professional judgment when it comes to protecting the children of our church, nothing is overkill. Would you be comfortable with a convicted felon watching your child?

We all want to protect our children; however, we should also want to protect those members of our church that do have a criminal past. Some members may still be on probation. The terms of their probation may limit them from certain activities. For example, many states restrict convicted felons from ever working with children. As a church we want to ensure that we do not have a member of our congregation volunteering to serve in a position that ultimately is causing them to break the law? We want to serve and protect them as well.

Many people have already posted other suggestions for companies that will conduct detailed background checks for you. All of these are great ideas. A fingerprint background check in just a start. Your goal should be to strive for your church to conduct full checks of all volunteering and employees working at your church, especially with children!!

Please feel free to comment on my posts, as well as, ask any security related question that your church is seeking answers to.

Helpful Link:


This site is the official national database for registered sex offenders. It is free to use and should be a start for all your searches. 

Church Abuse - Security - Sovereign Grace Ministry - SGM


I am not really sure where to start this blog post. For the last three years I have dedicated my spare time to post helpful information related to church safety and security. I have spoken with countless numbers of people trying to help them increase the safety and security of their places of worship. Now… My church of almost 30 years and “former” church parent ministry is plagued with their own “apparent” scandal related to both sexual abuse and abuse of pastoral authority. I have purposefully been quite related to the events that have been occurring. For months I have been asked to comment on the issue. I have decided that I cannot run a website dedicated to church safety and security and NOT talk about a major issue that is unfolding right in front of my eyes.

How and why did we get to this point! By no means am I attempting to say that I have had all of the answers. Many of the claims and allegations against both Sovereign Grace Ministry (SGM) and Covenant Life Church (CLC) stem back 25 years… From a Safety and Security prospective I can honestly state that I have first hand observed Covenant Life Church make many positive changes over the last 5 years towards their policies and procedures related to safety and security. The question will remain was it too little too late?

When I started this website 3 years ago, I was approached by two individuals from SGM and asked to contribute information about church safety and security on their internal church leadership website. Their passion and desire was to get this information out to their family of churches so positive change could be made in the best interest of their church membership. I decided that my first post should be related to children’s ministry and the importance of conducting background checks. (Original Blog Post will be posted in a separate securityatchurch.com post). I received immediate positive feedback from the content of the message from the two individuals who were in favor of the content being shared. Unfortunately, an individual in SGM leadership felt that the content of my post should not be viewed as the opinion of SGM. He did not want SGM churches to view my suggestions as coming with the authority of the parent ministry. My blog post was removed and my invitation to post future content related to church safety and security was revoked! This decision was not the desire of the two individuals who originally asked me to contribute. In fact to this day they are both still huge supporters of my efforts and securityatchurch.com! (Note: One of the individuals no longer works for SGM).

I am including the original SGM Blog Post in my next post for you to read and decide for yourself… Maybe the SGM leadership should have had their local churches view this information as the opinion of the parent ministry! What is your local church or church parent ministry doing to actively protect you and your local church? If they ever have the unfortunate situation to have the national press and local legal system evaluating them, will the outcome show an active desire to help the church be a safe place or a hidden effort to prevent resources and information from being shared and spread?