Violent Incident Preparedness
The alarming increase in violent acts in public spaces has captured the nation’s attention. These events are seemingly random and do not discriminate between large metropolitan addresses or small rural locations. It is a situation which requires strong emergency preparedness, swift action and sound leadership. We should not live in fear, but we must be educated, prepared and ready to respond and protect our congregation as needed.
Safety Task Force
Develop a task force to begin the education and evaluation process. This task force must be eager to establish and implement a logical violent incident protection plan. Recruit known specialists in the law enforcement and security fields to aid in the discussion. These trained professionals can help you assess your vulnerabilities and security gaps and make recommendations regarding safety and emergency preparedness options.
Please note some security recommendations may be more involved than others and would require a call to your insurance provider for coverage requirements and limitations.
Plan of Action
Once you have adequate knowledge of your protection options and solutions, develop a plan. Your plan should be simple, concise and all inclusive. The plan should include step-by-step instructions for leadership members to follow and execute in the event an intruder or threat is recognized. Develop a warning system, evacuation/lock down plan, safe zone management (lights off, curtains drawn, interior doors locked, head count), “all clear” notification announcement, triage support, media relations and so on.
It is likely our school aged children practice lock down drills in school. Our adult congregation members likely have not. As uncomfortable as the notion maybe, it is important that all ages are aware, knowledgeable and ready to act swiftly in such a situation. So, practice! Practice your safety plan so it becomes second nature and automatic. Hold drills for the congregation and training for your staff, teachers and volunteers.
There are many available security options and resources. Please do your due diligence to educate your church leadership on this topic. It is a wise and necessary course of action that will hopefully never be used!