After the tragic June shooting that left nine victims dead at a South Carolina church, pastors are reconsidering the safety protocols of their churches. Security guards and other added safety regulations are being implemented at historically black churches nationwide to protect against possible violence threats. As many of your Church Insurance clients and/or prospects are likely also taking extra safety measures after this tragedy, it’s important that they understand where their safety red flags are and how to protect their organizations from them.
The shooting, which occurred June 17, was the result of a racially motivated attack by a 21 year old male. Witnesses claim he joined in a small Bible study session around 7:25 pm at the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston. After disagreeing with the discussion on the Scripture, Dylann Roof opened fire on the guests, killing nine including Reverend Clementa C. Pinckney.
As churches can be easy targets with their open door policy, free entrance, and late hours, security for the patrons is being implemented. The heightened tension caused Mark Griffin, pastor of Wyman Chapel AME of Jacksonville, Florida to question whether or not his existing security at both of his locations are enough by stating “This situation will cause us to reassess what it is we have in place and make sure it is adequate for these types of situations.”
Although some might disagree with the idea of having defenses near a place of worship, the eminent threat of recent events has caused much reconsideration. Former Jacksonville Sheriff’s officer Ken Jefferson stated “There are a lot of critics that feel that pastors or even parishioners don’t need to have certain protection in place, that is totally wrong. You have to have eyes that are watching people as they come in, watching their body language, watching what they’re carrying.” Jefferson stressed the importance of still welcoming all into the church, except now there will be more awareness as to who enters.
Another security measure that is becoming increasingly popular is training for defense tactics in the event of a violent act. Chuck Chadwick, founder of Gatekeeper Security Services, seeks to educate anyone who wishes to play a larger role in worship services. Ushers, greeters, and day care workers can pay a fee to be trained over the course of 6 days on handcuffing, violence defense, and even firearm training.
While the wrong message of exclusion and defense doesn’t want to be portrayed, it is important for churchgoers to feel secure.
“You don’t want to send the wrong message, you don’t want to have guards or put up bars. But at the same token, you have to keep your congregation safe,” reassured Rev. Charles Williams of Detroit in a statement to USA Today.
At Charity First, we strive to protect your clients’ churches and other religious organizations from potential risks. For more information about the products and services we offer to remedy these circumstances, contact us today at (800) 352-2761.