Churches gather considerable amounts of people regularly. From small chapels to monumental basilicas, the number of people that churches can draw means that unique security plans need to be in place.
You’ll want the kind of security that gives the churchgoers peace of mind without making them feel intimidated or threatened. After all, their primary goal is to worship. Churches are not exceptions to being under threat from crimes, so here are some good security options that you can consider to protect church premises.
1. Access Control Systems
Access control systems are one of the most basic security options you can install for churches. Doors are electronically locked, allowing only authorized personnel to come and go.
You can also assign different levels of security to different parts of the church. While the main worship area can be accessed by the general public (if you wish), offices and other administrative areas can have their access limited only to employees and ministers.
Access control systems work better than your standard lock-and-key mechanism because they offer an easier way to grant and revoke access to people at any time. This can be done through a keycard, fob, or even a biometrics scanning option.
Another nifty feature that access control systems have is the ability to control the entire system remotely. Using cloud technology, administrators and managers can easily edit access settings from anywhere, which is helpful in emergency situations.
You might also want to consider getting an access control system that provides a system-wide lockdown in case of major emergencies. It’s a quick way to prevent entry and exit in a short period. You can also activate it from anywhere with your mobile device.
Access control systems can also be customized to fit in with the aesthetics of a church, unlike bulkier lock systems which stick out like a sore thumb in an otherwise beautiful building.
2. Video surveillance systems
Regardless of the building you have, anyone benefits from having a 24/7 video surveillance system in place. It’s relatively cheap, easy to set up, and allows you to see everything going on on the premises. It also allows you to cover your church’s blind spots and other places where people rarely enter. Those are the kinds of places that are most prone to crime.
It also works as a crime deterrent because thieves and pickpockets tend to go for unprotected places. If they see an active video surveillance system, they’ll likely move on to the next building instead.
Of course, video surveillance systems work best when there is someone actively monitoring them. It’s hard to catch a thief or prevent crime from occurring when you only watch video footage after someone makes a report.
3. Two-way radio communications
Having two-way radio communications for all your security and administrative personnel makes your church better equipped to handle quick emergencies. Understaffed areas in the church can quickly call for backup from other places, and everyone is put on the same page regarding security. They can also quickly notify others of potential security threats around the church.
Radio communications essentially provide you with comprehensive coverage of the whole place. Of course, you should put emergency and communications protocols in place to complement your radio setup. That way, no matter what kind of situation arises, your personnel know exactly what to do and where to go.
4. Separate your private and public Wi-Fi networks
In the digital age, physical security is not the only thing you should be worrying about. Digital security is also a rising concern, especially in light of news involving data breaches and computer hackings.
Nowadays, most church records are kept online. This is generally more secure because it protects the documents from fires and other natural hazards. Still, it also opens up your church to digital crime.
One of the most vulnerable aspects of any digital system is Wi-Fi. When data is sent back and forth on a system that is open to anyone, it won’t take long for a person with malintent to gain access to sensitive information. Modern churches usually provide public Wi-Fi for their churchgoers for various reasons. Still, you’ll want church employees and ministers to work on church documents using a private Wi-Fi system.
Additionally, cloud-based access control systems usually run over the church’s dedicated Wi-Fi network, so you don’t want to risk potential access to anyone within a distance.
As your churchgoers trust you with their personal data, you also have a responsibility to make sure they put their trust in the right place. Invest in your church’s digital technology by separating the network that your sensitive data travels along.
5. Set up a dedicated church security team
Pastors and ministers already have their hands full tending to ministry affairs, and they don't need to have to worry about security at the same time. You can have all the advanced technology in the world for security. Still, without people directly handling security, you will end up having a haphazard system at best, which can ultimately be a liability for the church and its leaders.
It’s a best practice to leave complex security protocols to a dedicated team that can handle any situation. This also leaves the ministers with more time on their hands to directly handle matters that involve faith and worship.
You can start by assembling a Security Board or a Security Council. They are in charge of developing the church’s security procedures. They can also make repeated assessments of the church’s security levels and policies, adjusting as necessary.
Nowadays, security technology is largely cloud-based, providing administrators with efficient and convenient ways to secure their premises. Security management can be handled from afar, allowing real-time protection and quick response times.
By investing in quality cloud-based access control systems for your church, you are giving not only yourself but also your constituents the peace of mind they need to better practice their faith.