BLOG: Your safety at church - | WBTV Charlotte

BLOG: Your safety at church

"This past Sunday a man tried to enter a church while holding a knife.  A volunteer church safety team member saw the knife and approached the man, asking him to return the knife to his car. The man got upset and stabbed the team member. The man with the knife was a disgruntled church member."

Today, we're seeing these type of stories more often.  Since it's estimated that around 45% of Americans attend church, I felt this a worthy topic to address in our blog; your safety at church. 

I've never seen the emphasis greater than it is today in regard to the establishment of safety and security teams at our places of worship. This trend isn't limited to certain religions. I see all religions seeking to formalize safety and security programs within their facilities, and around congregational gatherings, regardless of the location.

Church security programs around the Carolinas are developing in a variety of shapes and sizes. Some churches are hiring off-duty police officers, some use private security, both armed and unarmed, in plain clothes and in uniform. Some churches rely on the volunteer members of their congregation to form their safety and security teams.

The three primary security concerns I'm hearing from church leaders include the safety of children attending programs at the church, the potential for violence against their pastors and religious leaders, and concerns about the potential of an active shooter situation erupting during a service. 

It only stands to reason that the more diverse number of programs offered by a community religious center, the greater the safety and security concerns surrounding that organization, from Sunday School to kindergarten, fellowships to choir practice. Churches are even considering the safety of evening janitorial and maintenance staff.  Volunteers from a variety of professions are being sought by many churches to assist in their efforts to protect their own, such and doctors and nurses, police officers, security professionals and emergency managers.

As awareness increases in the area of church security, so will the safety of those in attendance.  

Just like security in your neighborhood, every member of a church has a personal responsibility to the security of their religious institution.  "If you see something, say something" is just as important when you pull into the parking lot of your church as it is on Monday morning when you walk into your office.

A very popular educational and awareness program focused on church safety and security is currently being presented across the US.  These programs are known as Sheepdog Seminars and feature such names Lt. Col. Dave Grossman (of police survival training fame), police officer and minister Jimmy Meeks and author and church violence expert Carl Chinn. Sheepdog Seminars will be bringing their program to the Charlotte area in April.  For more information go to www.sheepdogseminars.net.

So the next time you walk into your church, look around to see what measures are being taken for your safety.

Copyright 2015 WBTV. All rights reserved.

Karl de la Guerra, PPS, CLSS

Don't let the bad guys win. Karl de la Guerra is WBTV's expert on personal security. He has spent the past 36 years in the protective services industry, with experience in the U.S. military, law enforcement, and international corporate security. For more information, visit teamKDI.com.
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