One of the most common questions / observations I get from churches just (re)starting their security activities is whether they need a SAFETY program/team/department/policy or a SECURITY program/team/department/policy. So there are a number of factors to consider when creating BOTH, yes both.
First let’s focus on three basic definitions that I will stick to throughout my blogging, podcasting, speaking, teaching journey:
- SECURITY – The detection of, prevention of, and response to a crime.
- SAFETY – The detection of, prevention of, response to an accident. I call this the “spilled milk” areas
- SAFE – A level of assurance that a human has related to not being a victim of crime or accident.
So an organization needs to have both a CHURCH SECURITY and CHURCH SAFETY program to increase the level of assurance called “SAFE”. I am NOT a safety expert though I have a tendancy to spot safety issues when I am doing security. I don’t have safety checklists, safety policy, safety training, like those that might come from fire departments or OSHA or safety professionals that may be part of your organization.
The main concern that I hear about consistently, is churches don’t want to use the term “security” because of they are concerned that their audience, customer, clients, congregations will question the need for “security”, guns, guards, cameras, etc. When in reality security is so much more and it helps them be SAFE. Churches also don’t want their security team to think they are law enforcement with authority to do anything and thus think not calling a security team will solve this. It won’t.
My main concerns are people getting confused about their role and legal aspects.
I was discussing this topic with a church and convinced them that the way they were communicating to the team and other parties was actually deceptive. Also legally, at least in the state of Texas, there are strict laws and regulations of people PERFORMING THE ROLE of security, REGARDLESS of what they are called or labelled.
Now I am not going to be upset, if a church has a great and robust security program and labels it (document, website, badge, etc. as “[church name] Safety Team/Program/Policy”. As long as EVERYONE knows their ROLE/PURPOSE is security per the definition above. That doesn’t mean they can’t also identify true safety issues, but those issues should be turned over to facilities or other operational teams so as to not distract the security team from their primary security role.
I’m not trying to be technical, just want you to clearly understand where I stand on this topic and how you should communicate and operate.
I will do everything I can to be consistent in these definitions and I hope you will consider these thoughts in your communications. But don’t be surprise if you comment or ask for help with your “safety program” and I ask for clarification.
Be Simply Secure, Simply Designed, Simply Fun in your church security program