Every day more information comes out about the terrible murders by the Active Shooter at the Baptist church in Sutherland Springs, Texas. Since my mother was from Texas, and my father taught Adult Baptist Sunday School for 36 years, this one was personal.
This is a classic case of how the risk of an active shooter is everywhere these days. With so many recent shooting incidents, because it was done in a church, it makes it worse and should encourage all churches to hold active shooter training classes for their congregations.
No question that the shooter was a monster. After uncovering his record for domestic violence and even fracturing his infant’s skull, it turned out he practiced his shooting skills on pet dogs. He bought dogs on Craigslist, or took dogs promising to give them good homes, and then practiced shooting and killing them.
Houses of worship have been adverse to putting in stricter security, because they obviously want to be open and welcoming, but that
doesn’t seem to be possible these days.
A is all about Access Control. Most churches have some kind of vestibule, a sort of anteroom before you actually enter the church. Instead of haphazardly asking people to bring in their guns, maybe it’s time to have a “watcher” in the vestibule, keeping an eye out on who’s entering the church or synagogue.
Most shooters enter their chosen site with guns blazing, not hidden.
Getting back to basics, have some kind of access control is the first step. So keeping them out in the first place is the best option.
Another option might be a few cameras with monitoring station in the church office and someone there to watch before the services to catch someone taking their guns out of their car before they even reach the church or synagogue. This would be a simple solution because it would only need to be manned before, during and immediately after the services.
Another favorite control, panic alarms can be very expensive and useful for a group shooting situation. It gives the instant ability to ‘sound the alarm’ and get people down, or even better, out the side door and also gives advance notice to the potential victims.
Assuming we’re not profiling the entire group in advance, the best protection is doing quarterly security facility risk assessments. These assessments give you a quantitative measure of your risk, including not only looking at the threat level (the threat assessment part of the total assessment), but also reviewing a list of the 50 controls we’ve identified that will enhance security, and looking at the interaction between the highest potential risk, balanced by the offsetting, or preventive controls.
Every terrible incident like the shooting at the Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs should be an opportunity for building a foundation of security awareness in your community or congregation.
TO FIND OUT ABOUT AN ACTIVE SHOOTER PROGRAM FOR YOUR CHURCH
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