Who should be on my church safety team?
One question that every church asks us early on in their consultation is, "who should be on our security team?"
Our first response is, "don't call it a 'security' team. You need to call it a 'safety team' or 'first impressions team' or something that does NOT invoke the name 'security'." "Security" is a tricky word in churches (we are in Texas which has some very specific laws relating to use of the word "security" in religious settings). Semantics aside, here are some people you might want to consider inviting to be on your SAFETY team:
- Someone with a calm presence and a heart for ministry (Generally, if someone actively comes to you and requests to be on a SECURITY team, you should probably think twice about including that person on your team. You don't need Rambo or Walker, Texas Ranger on your team).
- Someone with any type of medical training (doctors and nurses are great, but don't forget about school athletic trainers, firefighters / EMTs, and CNAs from your local assisted living center).
- Someone with crisis intervention training or skills (teachers, business managers, HR professionals, counselors / therapists). You need team members who are masters at talking to people and defusing tense situations.
- Someone with Law Enforcement or Military EXPERIENCE...LOTS of EXPERIENCE. You need someone who has proven themselves capable of staying calm and reacting with their mammalian brain, not their reptilian brain, under stress. Plus, let's face it, we live in a world with an ever-increasing presence of firearms. If someone on your team is going to be armed, it needs to be someone who has spent and does spend thousands of hours at the shooting range under expert tutelage, finely honing their craft. 5 hours of classroom (or on-line) training and 50-rounds at a paper target one time at the range does not a qualified armed safety team member make. If you use LTC holders, you need to make sure they have more than the basic state-mandated training to carry a firearm.
Notice that the guns come at the end of the list and the calming presence and medical training come at the beginning. Every time I consult with a church I tell them, "I won't say you will NEVER encounter an active shooter or a violent incident on your campus, but I will say that you absolutely WILL encounter a medical emergency at some point." Chances are incredibly low that you will ever have an armed encounter, but chances are almost 100% that someone will get sick or hurt at your facility. It is much more important to be prepared for what WILL happen and to plan for what MAY happen. Your team members might have to confront an armed suspect, but they undoubtedly will have to assist with a medical emergency or calm down an agitated, annoyed, or scared person.
Look for the people with a servant's heart, who can remain calm under pressure, and who can assist those in need.