In the past year, the world has witnessed a rise in attacks on places of worship. By places of worship, we mean churches, Mosques, Temples, etc. These places cater to people from small towns to big cities. People not only visit these places for religious purposes but places of worship also provide refuge to people in distress and serve as a community center. Therefore, providing facility security to religious places is highly important as it is tasked with multiple responsibilities.
The March 15th Mosque attack in New Zealand that took over 40 lives, has led the world to rethink the security measures at places of worship. Security measures must perceive a threat and enable real-time responses when needed.
Religious leaders are now trying to develop mosque or church security plans that prevent any attack on places of worship. Here are four steps that can help you in securing your worship places.
1- Assessment of Facility Security Needs
The major element of your security plan is the assessment of existing security measures and the intensity of any potential attack. After an attack, the awareness of a danger prevailing around the religious places arises and security guard patrol services are engaged. But after a while, those measures are abandoned.
Religious places like mosques, churches, and synagogues witness a diverse population. It consists of people from towns of all sizes. Hence, there is a need to develop such security measures that serve all its visitors. In order to develop such a plan, you need to first make an assessment of how and when people visit religious places. The building layout needs to be taken into consideration so that you have proper security protocols in place. Consider what level of security you need. Whether you need video surveillance or security guard or both. Once you have developed a security plan, critically evaluate it for any potential errors that might cause damage later on.
While assessing the danger, it is important to understand that not all threats are made by the external actors. Rather there is a possibility that the danger may emanate from within the community. To ensure the implementation of security plans, engage the local law enforcement agencies to enhance the security measures and involvement of the community in this process.
2- Developing and Implementing a Facility Security Plan
After assessing the level of threats to places of worship and understanding your requirements, time to create a solid plan has arrived. However, an effective plan includes a combination of physical security measures and a high sense of awareness. A plan would only work if it is proactive, meaning that it is outward-looking. While developing your plan, keep in mind that you need to include physical barriers, security personnel, and monitoring systems.
I. Physical Barriers:
By physical security measures, we mean:
a. Installation of heavy metal doors with good locks.
b. Installation of alarms and locks on all entries and exit points.
c. Installing metal detectors to scan every visitor entering the premises of the place of worship.
II. Security Personnel:
Apart from hiring a security company, the most important security measures is to involve the local police for providing security. Other than that, you can hire professional security guards to provide round the clock security or multiple patrols in a day to provide facility security. If there is any specific religious day coming up, you can ask both the police and security guards to monitor the facility 24/7. Hiring a facility security officer for mosque security or church security is essential. The constant presence of security officers around the religious place would send out a message to the potential offenders that they are being watched.
III. Monitoring System:
Installation of an efficient monitoring system is another important tip to secure your places of worship. Installation of CCTV cameras would help you in monitoring the boundaries of your facility. Through CCTV cameras, you can see any suspicious people around your place and take immediate action. Other than that, you can also create a strategic car parking system where only the registered members of the mosque, church or synagogues can park their registered cars. All those who are new to the place of worship should park their cars in a car park away from the facility. Seek an expert security or car park company to create a car park system for you.
3- Community Engagement in Implementation of Security Plan
Communities that are actively involved in religious practices are likely to volunteer when it comes to facility security. Create a committee comprising of local religious leaders, local law enforcement and congregants who would be able to volunteer their time. Involve them in planning, implementing and updating the security plan from time to time. Allow the committee members to organize training for the residents and bring the local fire department and emergency response team for training.
4- Updating the Security Plan Regularly
Threats are of various nature and do not remain the same all the time. Keeping a decade-old security plan in place is highly unlikely to help anyone in case of an emergency. Rather the necessity of the time is to constantly update your security plan and staying vigilant. With changing security needs, the plan also has to be updated. The security committee should review the plan quarterly in light of the new security threats. Review the performances of the security guards and the functioning of monitoring systems. Determine whether there are any loopholes in the plan. Your security plan should be able to provide security to the facility and the community in times of need.
The world is becoming a dangerous place and even religious places are not secure anymore. The decision to secure their places of worship is the most important one for any community. It is the first step towards a safer environment for the congregants. Hire the best security guard companies in dallas to provide better security for synagogues, churches, mosque or any other house of worship and prevent any attacks from taking place.