29 October 2018

Church Security Part 1

Long before the tragedy in Pittsburgh where John Bowers walked into a Synagoguge and murdered 11 and injured 6 innocent people only because of their faith, there have been many other acts of violence at places of worship.  That is why our Pastor just shakes his head when people ask why we have security at our church.

It has been well over a year since I posted here on my blog.  The primary reason is that I really just could not take anymore of tactical LARPERS ( Live Action Role Play).  Those who don't seem to realize you are way more likely to save a life with a first aid skill set than a shooting skill set.  Of course you should have both.  Those who have followed me at all over the past two decades know that I also don't agree with the fixation of rifle classes and shooting pistols at stationary cardboard targets.   But I digress.  I realized my true gift was training people to respond to stressful situations using the body's natural responses to attain repeatable outcomes in variable situations.  After figuring out that many people are very stressed out by the behavior of their dogs, I started MCS Dog Training and it took off like wild fire making me the most sought after dog trainer in York County PA.    God blessed me with my gift and I feel that I need to get back into the personal protection and preparedness side of things.  So, here I am.

It has always been a dream of mine that our great country will adopt the mindset of Israel, that everyone is responsible for security at all times.  It should not be left up to law enforcement and the military.  I believe a revival is coming in many areas and one of them is in the area of personal protection and preparedness.  This revival should come largely through the church.  The first layer of protection is that you are responsible for taking care of yourself and your family in any and all situations.  Your level of willingness to accept that has nothing to do with what you may face from a traumatic medical emergency in your home to a sociopath trying to kill your family as they worship.  So now onto the main point of this post.  Starting or revamping the security team at your church.

My leave of absence as a tactical talking head also coincided with my increased involvement in the Freedom Biker Church in York PA.  I had only attended the church for a short while before Pastor Jim Quoss asked me if I would be interested in heading up the security team.  I was quick and eager to accept, but I have to admit at the time I had no idea exactly what all would end up being involved.  It is a very "people" job and I am by nature very introverted, however none of my various jobs in life ever let me be alone for long.

There is a need to make two points from the above paragraph.  The first is that if you need to talk your Pastor or other church leaders into having a security team there will be problems ahead.  Fortunately, I never had to do that since my Pastor came to me and there was an informal group when I took the job.  Just like he does with others that minister in other areas of the church, my Pastor allows me to work with autonomy because he trusts me.  He is constantly advised or "given a heads up" about goings on but usually just replies with a nod.

The second one is that the Pastor will get complaints about security.  This is because, as I will get into later, doing security at a church is not unlike being a bouncer or a doorman.  People do not like to be told "NO" or held accountable for anything they, or their children, do.  People are people and our natural reaction is to take any correction as a personal attack.  They of course will not say anything to the person who enforced the rule or spoiled the fun, they will go to the Pastor.

So whether you are a Pastor, church elder, security team member, or just a member of the church reading this and are interested in church security, I feel obligated to tell you about the good, the bad and the ugly of it all.  Someone, and it should not be the Pastor, Lord knows he has enough on his plate, will have to run the team.  People's mind will usually go to someone who is or is retired from law enforcement,  the military, or security.  My background includes all three, including bouncing which of course falls under security.  Below are some things I would look for in a leader and subsequently he should look for in prospective team members.

Interpersonal Communication Skills-   Church security is a strange animal in many ways.  One of them is the extreme age of folks you will have to deal with.  You cannot talk to an 8 and 80 year old the same way.  In police work, the idea of return customers is a reality but not one you promote.  At a church, it is all about making people feel comfortable by building relationships so that the folks you interact with know your heart.  Also why I am not a fan of any sort of outside contracting for church security.  People will expect the security staff to deal with some very uncomfortable and very personal situations where discretion is key.  We are blessed that a very small part of what we do will likely include the need for violence, and most violence will not be in the form of an active shooter from someone unknown to the church but rather a known person who becomes volatile over perceived disrespect.  If your staff is is not capable of keeping their bearing when asking someone not to stand in a doorway, they will not be able to keep it when telling someone to "step back" or for that matter saying it at all.  You need people that are willing and capable to confront someone without turning it into a confrontation.

Willingness to do violence-  Now that even President Trump has said it in the wake of the Pittsburgh shooting, it is easier for everyone to say.  The problem is that for most of the world, including the tactikewl community, this means firearms.  Of course this is a component of all layered security/defense plans it is not the foundation.  Of the men on my team, there is only one on my team that I did not hand pick, and I would have anyway.  I look for guys that are calm, decisive,  and have been exposed to violence.  More or less have some experience with being punched in the face and punching someone in the face.  Sadly, just as with recruitment for law enforcement in America today, these guys are getting harder and harder to come by.  Luckily when you go to a biker church, we are not in such short supply.  I need guys that are not strangers to the adrenaline dump that comes from a face to face confrontation.  I need guys who are able to flip the mental switch from finding someone a seat to putting their hands on someone and hurting them if need be.  This is not as clean cut as the idea of shooting a man with a gun that is shooting other people.  But like I said earlier, that is seldom the situation.  As with the Interpersonal Communication Skills,  a person who does not have the heart to tackle an attacker to the ground should not be expected to engage an active shooter at close quarters.

Of course if I am going to put out some things to look for in a leader and or team member, I would be remiss if I did not include some things that I would avoid in choosing them.  Remember, at my church when it comes to this stuff I make the rules.  These may not be issues to you.

The gun guy-  The guy that is so fixated on guns that he sees them as the sole tool for protecting himself and others.  Also included here is the guy that open carries.  We are a very pro 2nd Amendment church, and being in Pennsylvania many open carry even in church.  I am not going to argue with anyone over it, but open carry to me shows a lack of tactical mindset.

Those who ask-  Again, I am blessed to have the autonomy to choose my team.  When I choose someone I may literally have to trust my life, my family, and my church family lives to them.  In all cases, I have a preexisting relationship with them and have hung out with them in various circumstances.  Words mean little, actions mean everything.

That's about it for now.  If you have any questions or comments, please e-mail me.

The above views and comments are mine and mine alone and do not necessarily reflect the views of Freedom Biker Church York.

1 comment:

  1. Jeffrey Rosh20:19

    I wouldn't want anyone else to teach this course. Because George is committed to keep you and your family safe in such a incident. One thing he teaches is to stay calm, sometimes it's not that easy but George will show you how you can stay calm and still control the situation.