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This is the header image for the BPS Security article titled, “3 Ways Private Security Can Protect Places of Worship and Keep Congregates Safe” This image shows the silhouette of a church against the sky.

3 Ways Private Security Can Protect Places of Worship and Keep Congregates Safe

 

In the aftermath of the tragic shooting at The Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh, as well as numerous other attacks on houses of worship, we’ve seen a rise in private security solutions designed to protect churches and synagogues. These institutions are being targeted now more than ever before, so it’s essential that you research ways to keep your congregation safe. As an institution with high visibility and a limited budget, places of worship require specific security solutions for their unique challenges. Apart from these risks and vulnerabilities, places of worship also pose many unique challenges from a security standpoint. They often have multiple entrances, large databases and storage needs, confidential information about members or visitors, high-value assets like art or historical artifacts, as well as special security needs like surveillance cameras, alarm systems, visitor management systems or even weapons lockers. They also typically have limited staff during services or office hours. 

Install Proximity Detection Systems & Surveillance Equipment

Before investing in a full-scale security system, you may want to consider investing in surveillance equipment that can be a quick and easy way to enhance security for your house of worship. You can put up surveillance cameras in key locations, such as entrances and exits, parking lots, or other high-traffic areas. You can also install them inside the building to monitor common areas or where people gather, like the kitchen or the prayer room. They can even be used to monitor computer usage in the office. Wherever you put them, surveillance cameras are a great way to enhance security and increase awareness. Proximity detection systems can also be a quick and easy way to secure your entry points and keep unauthorized people out. These systems use sensors to determine when people are near doors, gates, and other entry points, allowing only authorized people to pass through. They’re often used to secure areas like parking lots, outdoor walkways, or other outdoor areas adjacent to your building.

Staff with Licensed Guards and Licensed Security Officers

This image depicts security guards standing outside of a synagogue. This image is included in the BPS Security article titled, “3 Ways Private Security Can Protect Places of Worship and Keep Congregates Safe”

An armed security guard, who is trained in law enforcement, can be a powerful deterrent to prevent, respond to or investigate an act of crime or violence against your church or place of worship. They can provide a highly visible presence, deterring potential criminals or terrorists from targeting your institution, and are equipped to respond quickly and effectively in the event that something does happen. Along with providing a highly visible presence, armed security guards provide a range of other security services and protections to places of worship, including:

– Patrolling and monitoring premises, including parking lots and other areas adjacent to your building – Responding to and investigating crimes or suspicious activity – Conducting initial investigations – Providing first aid and medical assistance – Documenting incidents through a written report – Notifying law enforcement as appropriate – Serving as a liaison with law enforcement during an investigation – Assisting with the evacuation of people from a building – Assisting with the protection of people during a lockdown – Assisting with the protection of people during an emergency.

Visitor Management Software with Event Recording

House of worship managers and administrators should look for visitor management software that can do more than just track who comes in and out of the building. To help protect your members and keep them safe, you’ll want to find software that also records events. This way, you can have a visual record of everything that happens in and around your location, whether it’s a wedding, a prayer service, or a community meeting. By recording events, you can go back in time and see what happened, who was there, the sequence of events and exactly where people were. This can be helpful during an investigation or when trying to piece together what happened during an incident, whether it’s a domestic disturbance or an act of violence against your building or congregation.

Conclusion

As places of worship face rising risks of violence, they need to implement private security solutions that are specific to their challenges. Given the wide range of challenges and needs that places of worship present, it’s important to find a security solution that can meet your congregation’s specific requirements. For example, you may want to invest in proximity detection systems to secure your building’s entrances and exits, or you may want to hire armed security guards for 24/7 coverage. You also might want to consider investing in visitor management software that can track who comes in and out of your building and record events, providing a visual record of everything that goes on in and around your place of worship.  

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