Our last post on safety in church design discussed some of the broad aspects of creating a church building that is both safe and secure. One element in the spectrum of safety is security. Read on as we further examine this critical concern, shedding light on its nature in church settings and why establishing a robust security team is a recommended goal.

Security Is Also a Broad Term

Church security, like safety, is a broad topic, spanning a wide array of threats, ranging from theft and burglary to acts of violence and even terrorism. The latter two are extremely worrisome but also rare. However, burglaries, characterized by unauthorized entry with intent to commit a crime, alongside theft, which can occur even during open hours, are much more common in church buildings.

According to statistics, approximately 5,000 church burglaries and 7,500 thefts take place annually, with an average cost exceeding $2,000 per incident. However, while these crimes tend to grab headlines, it’s imperative to recognize that medical emergencies pose an equally significant risk. With nearly 800,000 of both strokes and heart attacks, as well as 325,000 concussions reported annually in churches, the likelihood of encountering a medical crisis surpasses that of crimes.

Time to First Response

Understanding what may happen is one thing, but the time it takes for authorities to respond to an incident, especially a medical one, is another. Law enforcement and emergency medical services often face constraints in terms of arrival times due to variables like distance and demand. Studies reveal that in urban areas, for example, police response times average between 5 to 9 minutes, with EMS response times extending up to 30 minutes. In critical situations where every second counts, the disparity between immediate need and actual assistance underscores why church leaders should consider creating an on-site security team.

Strategy and a Team

This dedicated safety and security team can be comprised of trained staff and volunteers. A strategy will need to be created for the training and procedures the team will employ during emergencies. Here’s where it’s best to enlist the guidance of security professionals. Our expertise lies in architectural design and construction, and we acknowledge the distinct expertise required for security operations. That is not to say that there aren’t situations where building design and codes do mitigate certain risks, they just can’t protect against all threats.

In our next post, we’ll look at security teams in more depth to understand some of the ways they can add to a safe church environment. Meanwhile, we invite church leaders to engage with us further on safety and other church building topics through our upcoming i3 webinars. Topics, dates, and sign-up are available on our website.