ATG Presents Safety Team Programs for North Idaho & Spokane Area Churches

Action Training Group Monthly Membership Meeting. Kenny Moore spoke at our monthly ATG Membership Meeting at the Post Falls Cabela’s on May 26. Kenny led the security team at the Candlelight Church team in Coeur d’Alene when they got started.

Kenny, a retired Lt. Colonel, USMC, shared that the best approach is to look at the very best current Church Security available in the United States, and tailor programs to meet the specific needs of each church environment.

Church Security is different than other security programs. In fact, according to Kenny, it is more complex than military or law enforcement planning. Kenny has more experience than most and saw combat in Vietnam in Marine special forces.

Kenny got involved with protecting churches when two young girls disappeared from AWANA Programs at churches in Idaho and Montana. One 12 year old girl was never found. Kenny’s church had a large AWANA Program and had immediate concerns about vulnerability, and liability. Kenny suggests that the sex slave trade is big in the U.S. and named Louisiana and Texas as places where trafficking is widespread.

Insurance. Every Church Safety volunteer needs to be protected by insurance! Kenny located and interviewed representatives from the two best programs in the United States, and then researched an insurance program, Brotherhood Mutual, that specialized in insuring those churches with security programs. The team discovered that Insurance gave a significant discount for churches that have effective programs, while also providing blueprints on overall security planning and execution.

Security Training Programs. The church sent volunteers to a formal accreditation and training program at Center for Personal Protection and Safety (CPPS) in Spokane. From the basic training in legal and practical aspects of church safety. the team was able to build a leading edge program with a solid foundation.

Resources. Kenny highly recommends volunteers attend the training program at CENTER FOR PERSONAL PROTECTION & SAFETY (CPPS) to obtain formal accreditation. The group has a highly recommended book entitled Church Safety & Security Guidebook with checklists and forms related to employment applications, evaluating security measures, protecting equipment and many other aspects of church security. He also recommends the checklists and planning materials provided at Tina Lewis Rowe’s website.

Medical Problems. Medical emergencies need to be handled quickly. A heart attack usually needs treatment within 2 minutes. There need to be medically trained volunteers on your team with the training and composure to calmly step in and administer CPR or stop bleeding. A shooting event will take very well trained personnel with much of the critical care taking place during the first hour.

Pastor On Board? But the pastor of your church needs to buy in. This is something we hear again and again. Pastors are reluctant and often are not fully committed to the process. You will need representatives from the each of the various ministries in your church body; i.e., children’s ministries, maintenance, finance, etc. Decisions must be made about who will have keys to rooms, vehicles and buildings. But control of money is a bigger issue than who controls keys. If there is pilfering, other issues also exist.

Vehicles & Equipment. Drivers must be checked out to determine whether they can drive well, how well they see and whether there medical problems or a history of sexual abuse. Who maintains the vehicles and is the equipment safe?

Background Checks & Travel. Background checks must be professional and thorough. You cannot afford not to do background checks! This is even more important when volunteers take children away from the church on overnight activities.

Many churches take youth and adults to foreign countries on missionary trips. Interacting with U.S. Embassies overseas may be required and the team should have a list of critical phone numbers prepared in advance. Issues with passports and other legalities can be threatening if preparations are not made in advance.

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Written Policies & Procedures. There need to be written policies and procedures for everything. Even access to the pastor needs to be controlled. Access should be by appointment with the door locked. How are children to be picked up from the nursery? How are the restrooms monitored? Is someone providing over watch in the parking lot. Is your security team to be armed or unarmed? What is the policy for use of force and what kind of training do members of the team receive?

One local church requires professional training for members of the safety team to carry a gun but not for those who have law enforcement or military background. Military training is not the same as the training necessary to make the decisions about use of force that need to be made in a church environment.

Consider having a security class for women in your church. Not for those on the Church safety team but for the woman who could be abducted in the parking lot. If someone puts a gun to a woman’s head and tells her to drive, she should immediately crash the car. There is a good chance she will survive but, if she allows herself to be taken somewhere at gunpoint, there is a 98.2 chance she will not survive.

Prior Planning. The Seven “Ps” start with team unity. PROPER PRIOR PLANNING PREVENTS PISS POOR PERFORMANCE Kenny referenced Sun Tzu on the Art of War. I looked up Sun Tzu and found that unity starts with moral leadership!

The MORAL LAW causes the people to be in complete accord with their ruler, so that they will follow him regardless of their lives, undismayed by any danger.

Five Principles. Kenny boiled the art of security down to five principles. Property, People, Programs, Procedures and Prevention. What if there is a hurricane or an earthquake? Someone must stand up and restore order which means execution of prior planning. The plan must be simple, in writing and there have to be leaders ready to execute the plan.

In one instance, a pastor told a woman not to go home because her husband was volatile. She went home and told the abusive husband what the pastor said. On Sunday, the husband came up and sat on the platform right behind the pastor. The man refused to leave when the pastor told him to do so.

The pastor signaled to his team but there was no reaction. No plan was in place or an existing plan was not executed. He was finally taken to a room after the pastor stopped the service and asked for the man to be removed. The team took him to a room. The individual on the platform behind the pastor had three guns and planned to kill the pastor at the end of the service. Ironically, the pastor who counseled the woman was a pastor in another church down the road!

There need to be diagrams for emergency evacuations and regular evacuation drills for the whole church. In one case, there was fire and a woman got some girls out and then went back for a disabled child. meanwhile, one of the girls who the volunteer had already escorted out went back for a cell phone and was severely burned. Now there are lawsuits and a potential for large money damages.

LIABILITY COVERAGE. Kenny emphasized that this is the reason that every church needs to insure all the church volunteers. Brotherhood Mutual Insurance covers 240,000 churches and covers most activities. Even firing a pastor has become very dangerous and many local churches have experienced ministers who sexually abuse children in their care. One church has seen at least two youth ministers incarcerated.

“Get down and stay down!” are good words to teach your congregation. If shots are fired, those who are on the floor have a better chance of survival. Kenny told us a great war story about 75 Marines who were surrounded by Viet Cong troops that outnumbered them. The men were all ordered to stay awake and perform guard duty but they men were totally exhausted and most were falling asleep even when ordered to remain standing.

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Just the constant watching expends much of the energy of those on your team. Constant observation leads to drowsiness and much of our mental energy will be depleted while performing the task of protecting a church. Teams can develop unity by simply talking about how to stay awake and deploying various techniques to keep one another alert. Observing demeanor is critical. Every person we have discussed this with recognizes that discerning those with evil intentions is a gift. Identify those on your team who have the gift!

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