SECURITY FOR PLACES OF WORSHIP
The necessity for security for places of worship is no different than security for any other “business”. Places of worship are sanctuaries. They are welcoming spaces where people go to recharge and center themselves spiritually. But, sadly, in today’s world, all facilities, including places of worship, need to ensure they can control and monitor access.
AREAS OF VULNERABILITY
So what can be done to effectively secure a church or a synagogue, or a temple or a mosque, while at the same time maintaining the feeling of spirituality?
A logical first step towards better security is an evaluation of possible vulnerabilities. Let’s look at several areas where security might be an issue.
While these places are centers for spirituality, they also have more temporal properties like business offices, state of the art a/v equipment, expensive furnishing and fixtures, even cash from offerings on site. And these make them vulnerable to thefts.
In places where there are schools or daycare with children on the grounds, protection of these areas is a must.
Perhaps, the most deadly reason for crimes in these places are differing belief systems. Here is where threat to lives of the members of the congregation is at its greatest.
Undoubtedly, securing these places presents special challenges. Security protocols must take into consideration that these are after all, hallowed grounds. Therefore, security cannot be intrusive – metal detectors or routine searches are impossible.
The inclusive nature of most of these places where “all are welcome” make it also challenging to filter people. Many of these facilities host community meetings and other non-church activities that necessitate allowing unknown people to pass through the facilities regularly. However, putting a restriction on these kinds of interactions would be contradictory to their very essence – of being places of sanctuary or refuge.
WHAT CAN BE DONE?
While there are certain challenges, it is possible to have a balance – to provide effective security and safety in a discreet manner.
Unlike in companies or established businesses, a place of worship might not have a dedicated security team. So forming a security “ministry” or “committee” who will take charge of any decisions regarding safety is a good solution. This group will be responsible for looking for a security system provider who has experience in helping houses of worship; a provider who understands the importance of creating a welcoming environment while ensuring that it is safe and secure.
One of the important safety features that can be implemented without necessarily being too limiting or intrusive is the installation of an electronic access control system.
ELECTRONIC ACCESS CONTROL SYSTEM IN PLACES OF WORSHIP
The beauty of installing an electronic access control system in a church, synagogue, temple, or mosque is relative ease of use, as well as the flexibility it offers.
An electronic access control system replaces the traditional lock and master key system. People are granted or denied access to restricted areas – offices, storage facilities or the day car area, using entry devices such a keypads, card readers or biometric scanners.
Trusted individuals within the congregation are allowed access while limiting others. While the use of physical keys and locks is still possible, the level of security of an electronic access control system and the convenience it provides outweigh the accompanying expense that installing such a system entails.