Pastor Killed While Preaching, how prepared is your church?

By Rick Anderson,
Church Security Solutions, Salem

SALEM, Ore., As the tragic events unfolded at the First Baptist Church of Maryville, Illinois a nation already suffering from economic turmoil struggled to understand how a symbol of peace and hope could be a target of such tragedy. Pastor Fred Winters was shot three times and ultimately died from his wounds. A community and a nation now mourn this senseless act and wonder where peace and hope can be found
As our perilous economic times continue to raise anxiety in the heart of our nation we look to the church for solace. The church has historically been a beacon of benevolence and a place of emotional support when everything around us is failing. Now, this historical safe haven is being assaulted with targeted acts of violence.

What can the church do to mitigate the risk of such attacks next Sunday? Following are steps every church can take immediately to lessen the likelihood of an attack.

1. Assess your church’s areas of security vulnerability.

A simple and thorough assessment of risk can be conducted in a matter of a couple of days. We suggest churches use a third-party for this assessment. There are firms that provide these assessments to churches. If the expense of such an assessment is prohibitive, local law enforcement agencies can be a great resource to assist the church with identifying areas of security compromise.

2. Develop a volunteer safety and security team.

This can be as simple as two church members willing to walk the church premises with a cell phone who are prepared to call 911 if they see suspicious activity. In churches I work with, there are security teams approaching 100 volunteers. Many of these volunteers work in emergency services and some are law enforcement. Many of these law enforcement carry their weapons while off duty attending church. Designated team members may carry manual restraints, less lethal weapons and two-way radios. Security team members should be trained in threat assessment and pastoral protection (commonly referred to as dignitary protection). They should be CPR, first aide, and AED trained and ready to respond to any incident. Whatever your church’s size or resources, a volunteer security team is a must.

3. Provide your key staff and volunteers with the knowledge of what to look for in a threat.

How do you know what to look for? Is every threat wearing a trench coat? Does a threat always convey its intentions? These are a few of the questions we answer in Threat Assessment training, along with, how to identify what are referred to as pre-incident indicators, or those little cues that ultimately when all put together, add up to a threat. The Secret Service has used threat assessment for years. The FBI is employing threat assessment in counter-terrorism, and in the last decade local law enforcement, schools, and corporations across America have begun using threat assessment actively. Church Security Solutions, LLC. (CSS) has nationally recognized threat assessment experts that train church staff and volunteers in how to identify a threat before it becomes a tragedy.

Our faith, our church and our nation’s bedrock have been violated by the shooting in Maryville, Illinois this past Sunday. The church must take a proactive posture on security to prevent the evil we witnessed this last weekend.

Rick Anderson is the co-founder/owner of Church Security Solutions, LLC., a private consulting firm dedicated to protecting the church. Rick was a pastor of administration for a mega-church for nearly 18 years before resigning to help churches across the country become proactive with their security. Rick speaks frequently at national conferences on the issue of church security. Rick will present at the distinguished Christian Leadership Alliance National Conference, in Atlanta Georgia April 21, 2009.

Contact Rick Anderson, 503-949-8862
Church Security Solutions, LLC.
5276 Southbend Drive SE
Salem, Oregon 97306
Or on the web @ [email protected]

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