Course Review: "Security for Faith-Based Organizations"
Chad D. Baus
Can we take the lessons learned in blood and lives at Columbine and the World Trade Center and apply them so we'll never take this [path] again, or do we have to wait until our kids die? - Lt. Col. Dave Grossman
A prudent man sees danger and takes refuge, but the simple keep going and suffer for it. - Proverbs 22:3
Concerns over security at places of worship are increasing in the wake of massacre after massacre in "no-guns" (victim disarmament) zones across the country. With an increasing demand for information about what is needed to adequately prepare for the threat have come increased opportunities for training.
After having written several articles  recently on the need for attention to the problem of defenseless places of worship in Ohio , and as a person who believes one can never have too much training, I was encouraged when contacted by Jeff Hawkins, Director of Security at the Creation Museum located outside of Cincinnati.
Jeff Hawkins is a senior public safety and security professional with over 27 years of diverse experience working for profit, not-for-profit and government organizations on a local, regional and global level. He has over 1,000 hours of training in the areas of security, law enforcement and emergency management with such specialty agencies as the FBI, Northwestern University School of Police Staff and Command and the Counter Terrorism Unit in Israel. He has served as Adjunct Professor of Criminal Justice, Management, and Technology, and has written numerous articles for publications such as Law and Order, Police Magazine, Security Management, Security, Technology & Design and Safety and Health. He is a frequent speaker on the topic of security and public safety.
Designed by a former Universal Studios exhibit director, the Creation Museum is a state-of-the-art, 65,000 square foot museum that brings the pages of the Bible to life by presenting a "walk through history." Mr Hawkins contacted me to let me know about a seminar he conducts on the museum campus, entitled "Security for Faith-Based Organizations."
Faith-based organizations--defined by Hawkins as churches, mosques, temples, and shrines, as well as religion-oriented museums, schools, daycares, and so on--have traditionally lacked the security measures and emergency preparedness planning that businesses and other secular groups have put into place. Indeed, many of these organizations are reluctant to discuss whether or not they are aware of ever having been targeted and what, if any, active security preparations they have put in place (or decided against).
"This issue that we face," Hawkins told me, "with rapidly escalating violent confrontations is one most [faith-based] organizations just refuse to address because the answer is never easy or cheap."
Hawkins also notes that risks to their institutions come in many forms beyond a violent attacker, including arson, lawsuits, dangerous weather and medical emergencies.
In order to address these concerns, and in the wake of having had to endure media criticism over a decision to provide armed security on their campus, the Creation Museum has begun offering its "Security for Faith-Based Organizations" seminar. The four-hour seminar, presented by Mr. Hawkins, provides an overview of the many facets of security, safety, and emergency planning that every organization should have in place -- no matter how large or small the organization might be. I attended the seminar as part of a delegation from my own church congregation.
In order to put things in the proper perspective, the session investigates the growing threat to all religious venues and cites recent examples of foreign and domestic terrorism, as well as hate crimes.
Specific topics also include security, emergency preparedness, critical incident response, due diligence, and background screening. Many faith-based organizations fear that even making such plans, let alone speaking out about them, will appear contrary to their mission and what they promote. The seminar includes an open discussion of what many institutions are presently doing and what they need to do in the future.
"Both law enforcement and church leaders are coming to these seminars," Hawkins told me in advance. While there were a few representatives from law enforcement in the seminar I attended, it was only because they had volunteered to look into security planning for their own faith-based organization, and not as part of any official duties related to their job.
At the beginning of the seminar, Hawkins explains that the goal of a good security plan is to put as many layers of security you can between your organization and the risk. He encourages attendees to release their imaginations, observing that "we lack the imagination to think it could happen." Hawkins advises that in developing a security plan we should "imagine every possible scenario, whether plausible or not, and plan, because the enemy is doing the same."
"You can't 'kinda have' plans in place and hope that it'll hold in court. People have an expectation of security. They expect a safe, secure place, and courts have upheld liability for failing to provide one."
The first step towards reaching the goal of providing that safe, secure place is to do a risk assessment. Hawkins suggests a formal meeting with your local police, fire and EMS officials to get a realistic feel for what they can do for you. "How fast and how big can their response be?" he asks, noting that organizations may need to plan their own medical response, security response, and other types of response. Hawkins reminds his seminar attendees that "the first responders aren't as ready as the instant responders. Don't think police, fire and EMS will be there to solve all of your problems. You need a plan to take care of and sustain yourself."
Next, Hawkins recommends that faith-based organizations meet with their insurance carriers. The first meeting should determine coverage for plans that are being considered, while later meetings should supply representatives with the documented plan and work to educate them on any areas of concern.
The third step toward the goal is to develop a Safety Team and a Security Plan. Hawkins advises that, depending on the needs identified in the risk assessment, the plans can consist of physical security (lighting, locks, landscaping, bollards, perimeter protection), electronic security (cameras, ID badges, alarm systems), and procedural security (who does what and where do they do it in an emergency?). The goal for the security plan, Hawkins teaches, is to move from a loosely-organized safety group into a focused, team-oriented unit.
A fourth step towards the goal of providing a safe, secure place and create layered protection against a threat is performing extensive background checks. While he recognizes that it is sometimes difficult for a faith-based organization to do this without appearing judgmental, Hawkins says that not doing these checks, or not doing them well, "can get you into trouble on so many levels."
After the Risk Assessment is complete, the organization should then work to put an emergency plan in writing, and then regularly practice the plan. For times when it is necessary to get everyone out of the building, evacuation drills should be run. For times when sending them outside would put them at greater risk, shelter-in-place (lockdown) drills should be developed. Hawkins stresses that there needs to be a plan for both.
The emergency plan must also include an 'active shooter' plan. "There is only one reason you will put one in place," Hawkins says, "and it will be over in seven minutes." Hawkins noted that any police or other first responder will tell you that 'it'll all be over by the time we get there.' (At the time he said this, my immediate thought was "the reason it takes seven minutes is because that's when the good guys with guns show up. So why not reduce that time frame by having instant responders already on scene?")
"Everyone has a plan," Hawkins observed. "Either wait for police or respond. No matter which they chose, the bottom line is that the only thing that responds to violence is greater violence."
"You can't be wishy-washy with your plan," Hawkins continued. "You have to decide and decide early, then train, plan, train, plan, train."
Hawkins also addressed some of the religious and emotional responses that can occur when planning for a response to violence, before finishing the seminar with a look at plans for medical assists, executive protection (including plans not only to protect the staff's safety, but also their integrity), intelligence (many times there is a forewarning), and safety in the field (mission trips and similar events).
Whether it's your place of worship, school, or if you send groups on mission work, this seminar will provide you with the tools to properly plan.
Chad Baus is the Buckeye Firearms Association (Buckeye Firearms Association | Defending Your Firearm Rights
) Vice Chairman and Northwest Ohio Chair.
 "Lt. Col Dave Grossman's Bullet-Proofing the Mind - A MUST for every concealed-carrier", February 15, 2008, Lt. Col Dave Grossman's Bullet-Proofing the Mind - A MUST for every concealed-carrier | Buckeye Firearms Association
 "New Life Church Pastor Brady Boyd speaks out on church security preparedness", February 22, 2008, New Life Church Pastor Brady Boyd speaks out on church security preparedness | Buckeye Firearms Association
 "Ohio's ban on defending lives in places of worship: How did it get this bad?", December 11, 2007, Ohio's ban on defending lives in places of worship: How did it get this bad? | Buckeye Firearms Association