Why Places of Worship Should Establish Security Committees

It’s an established fact: installing a professional security system at a church, synagogue, temple, or mosque will increase the safety of the location, and aid the authorities in apprehending any would-be criminals. Security experts recommend that all places of worship, no matter what size, create a security committee. We spoke to Jim McGuffey, who is one of 130 security professionals worldwide to hold all three ASIS International board certifications in security accredited by the Department of Homeland Security, and he explained why a security committee is necessary for a place of worship.


“An effective protection system will be one that has policies and procedures related to all of the technology used and all of the training necessary for security and safety,” McGuffey said. “You should have well-trained personnel and they don’t necessarily have to be security officers, because not every house of worship can afford security officers. But, they can have well-trained volunteers and technology working together. In other words, you have to have the three (personnel, procedures and technology) working together in order to have an effective protection system.”

For example, if you install a brand new security system at your place of worship, you will inherently increase the safety of your building. However, even the best technology still needs people behind it who know how the system works and operates. While your security system will be paired with a 24/7 central monitoring station if you install with a company like Supreme, it would still increase the safety of your place of worship to have an informed security committee. If there are trained and informed security volunteers on your premises during all hours of operation, you drastically increase the security presence at the building.

In order to help places of worship launch initiatives and move this process along, we have provided 3 effective tips to creating a security committee:

1. Find Congregation Members Who Have Backgrounds Relevant to Security

Your security committee, optimally speaking, should be comprised of people who have a familiarity with security. For example, if there are members of your congregation who are retired police officers or military members, they would be ge great additions to the committee. These people should then receive basic first responder training so that, if an event does occur while the building is populated, they can be relied upon for direction. The committee should be comprised of people you can trust, and they should have the necessary information needed to react to a security breach, which leads us to our next point.

2. Create a Detailed Security Policy

It’s important to create a security template for your security committee. This means that there should be an established plan in place that is continuously updated and maintained as events come and go. A typical security policy should include details such as procedures for evacuating the building in case of emergency, details about who is authorized to talk to authorities or press, how children should be released to their parents in the event of an emergency, and so on and so forth. It’s important to hold a meeting with your security committee prior to establishing these policies so that everyone’s ideas and concerns can be properly addressed. If you choose the right people for your committee, they could present valuable ideas at the meeting to further increase the strength of your security approach.

3. Do Routine Comprehensive Risk Assessments and Vulnerability Surveys

It’s important for the committee to meet on a regular basis to assess how the security strategy is going and address any concerns members of the committee may have. For example, if there is a new threat that could be posed to the place of worship, a member of the committee could bring this up at a meeting and a plan could be devised. If someone thinks the fencing around the yard needs work, take care of it. If there is shrubbery that seems to be getting in the way of the surveillance cameras or posing as a hiding spot for criminals, trim the bushes. Although it may seem like a lot of work, it’s much better to have and not need than to need and not have.

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