Protecting Houses of Worship
One of the many advantages of living in America is our religious freedom. We are free to gather with people who share our beliefs and open our doors to those that don’t. We can publicly announce these gatherings and plan special events. It’s one of the most important freedoms we have. Unfortunately, this freedom to worship in a building with our community is compromised by the increased violence we have seen against houses of worship. 2019 closed with the highest rate of attacks on religious communities in recorded history. How do we keep our houses of worship safe without compromising the welcoming atmosphere they should offer?
One of the most effective measures is a preventative one. It involves identifying individuals with ill intent before they grab for a weapon. The Department of Homeland Security started a campaign called, “If You See Something, Say Something.” This campaign aims at raising awareness for the indicators of terrorism and terrorism-related crime. It also emphasizes the importance of reporting suspicious activity to the proper local law enforcement authorities. We, the public, are the best line of defense for the prevention of attacks on houses of worship.
Another preventative measure involves creating a “Church Emergency Team.” This would be a team of leaders within your membership that would be responsible for responding in an emergency as well as being available to meet the needs of people in emergency situations before they escalate into violence. According to The Violence Project, the most comprehensive mass shooter database worldwide, there were two distinct subgroups of mass shooters who acted against religious communities. There were those motivated by religious hatred and those whose domestic issues spilled over into their places of worship. Imagine how impactful it could be if a team was trained to notice and connect with these people in their moment of crisis before it escalated into life-threatening violence.
Unfortunately, we cannot always prevent or predict when these unfortunate events will occur. Once preventive measures have been taken, it’s time to think about protecting your members in the event of an attack. The starting point is to connect with your local law enforcement agencies. You can Invite them to walk your facility and help you identify possible areas of weakness in the physical security of your building. They may advise security cameras, better door locks, or an updated escape route.
They may even advise additional measures of safety. That’s when Covenant Security Equipment can help. We sell bullet resistant panels that can be integrated into many different structures without changing the appearance. You can use them to reinforce walls, doors, pulpit, bimah, or altars. You can use them to create a safe room or put them in a hallway to create a safe passageway out. Your house of worship can keep its welcoming atmosphere while still providing protection to your members.
If you have questions about our bullet resistant panels or need help creating a customized plan for your house of Wworship, contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org. We are here to help.