Subscriber Discussion

Security Solution For Public Worship Place Facing Robbery, Arson And Gunmen

I recently came across to an opportunity for a worship place where at least 4000 people get to gather during weekends for worship and around 200 people during the weekdays. The requirement is to have such a security system setup in place (integrated or standalone) that can tackle emergency situations quickly with minimal impact to visitors.

Any suggestions!!!!

Thanks in anticipation.

What are the key risks / threats this place face?

Is it an open area where anyone can access from multiple entrances or is entrance controlled through one or a few openings?

Robbery, Arson, Psychic Gunmen are the key risks for this place alongwith vandalism, graffiti & theft in car parking are the current issues. The place has a wide open area for (atleast 1000)car parking with two seperate gates to access the premise. Besides that the premise has a main building for worship, which has two uncontrolled doubledoor entries with several emergency exit doors all around.

They currently have PELCO DX setup with around 30 analog cams mix of domes & PTZ with very few internal doors with controlled access and proper Fire alarm & sepperation systems inplaced.

Good risk assessment is key here. Knowing what the biggest and most likely threats are will help drive what systems should be implemented first. No one wants to be vulnerable to psycho gunman, but how palpable is that risk compared to vandalism? Make sure your decisions are driven by these findings; it will help you and your customer work towards the same goal.

First things first: is there manned security at the site? Having elaborate systems of sensors or cameras is great, but only if they result in responses.

Second: Think physical access control for at least perimeter (outside facing) doors. 'Keeping the bad people out' makes sense, but in the case of the church it may be more like 'allow only safe people in' to the truly sensitive spots.

They have very few unarmed security personnels on site and that also for weekends only. Our initial discussion started with concerns of robbery during weekdays when the premise is not much crowded and to prevent any psycho with arms and ammunition to do the extensive damage. Since its a place OPEN to all; it is very difficult to identify safe people at the entry.

I believe the best way is to suggest an upgrade for existing security setup by designing a solution that can have possible integration within Access, CCTV & Fire system to tackle such emergency situations. What do you say on risk management solutions like this?

Other suggestions are welcome too.

I might not understand the full scope of resources, but how is a response workflow management tool (like you linked) a benefit if there are no responsive parties to manage?

If organized process is an urgent need, it makes better sense and is less expensive to start organically with a handful of procedures in a binder. Implement basic emergency preparedness and risk management plans among a small group before entertaining the idea of an enterprise software platform.

It sounds like manned response is provisional at best. If I were in your place, I'd think about how I could maximize the visibility of the systems I already have to that group (remote notification/alarming/visibility) and then shore up the gaps in physical security. (Keeping doors locked after hours, making sure my guards patrol the most sensitive spots)

When it comes to integrating systems, it is prudent to ensure the basic systems themselves work well and are used well before spending money to tie them together. Can the access, video, and fire systems be seen remotely now (albeit separately)?

This premise has almost 15 residents staying 24*7 to look after cleaning, general maintenance & day to day activities. Some of them are of IT background and capable to manage any security solution.

They also have basic emergency preparedness and response understanding but looking for security solution that can be of a help during critical situations. The current systems are not seen remotely and it is not required as well since staff reside at the premise.

Protecting a house of worship is something that requires a comprehensive security plan. Technology (access control, cameras, etc.) may play a role, but is only a very small part of the picture. As Brian stated, it begins with a security risk assessment. This assessment will define and prioritize the specific security risks and threats that the organization faces.

Once the assessment has been done, a security plan needs to be created. This plan will provide the details of how each specific security threat will be managed. In an environment such as this, effective security policies and procedures, training, and security staffing are usually the most important aspects of the plan. Electronic security systems may be a part of the plan, but are never the only thing that should be done, and rarely the first thing that should be done.

With all due respect, most integrators do not have the expertise or experience to conduct a security risk assessment or prepare a comprehensive security plan. I would suggest this client hire a qualified independent security consultant.

There is at least one consultant that I know of (Jim McGuffy) that place an emphasis on serving houses of worship. He operates an informative website with some great info on church security: Church Security Consultant

Most other consultants who have practicing for a while have probably done at least a few churches in their time. Because most religious organizations have little or no money to spend on security, many consultants will often do projects like this for free or for very little charge. I recently did a "pro bono" project for a small daycare center affiliated with a church in the Seattle area.