Although this church security related incident occurred in September, it is very applicable now as churches look at their liability under the law in use of force incidents. Understanding use of force and its legal implications are essential to anyone beginning a church security team or churches who have instituted a security program already.
As you watch the video, place yourselves in the shoes of the man who did the stabbing and the man who was stabbed. Could this have been handled differently? Did a weapon need to be introduced. Although we don’t have all the facts, what we do know is this man believed he was in the right, but the municipal authorities disagreed. He was charged with a felony.
Synopsis: Homeless man attempts to stay on the church property. A man, identified as church security by the media, attempts to remove the man from the property. What happens next is shocking. The incident devolves into a fight, and the church security employee pulled out a knife and stabs and slashes the homeless man.
The homeless man survived, but the church security employee went to jail. I attempted to research what happened to the church employee, but was unable to locate additional information.
Q: Is there ever a time to disengage?
A: Yes, tactical retreat is always an option when you are in over your head, don’t have a radio or cell phone to call for help, or have limited abilities to handle a threat. There is no shame in disengagement. It is smart.
Q: Does a church security guard have the right to physically remove someone?
A: If someone is a danger and you can articulate why you did something, then yes, there may be times when it is appropriate.
However, would it be easier to step back, contain the situation, and call the police? Absolutely! This would be the preferred course of action if it is at all possible. If there person wants to leave without hurting anyone, be a great witness. Get the description, plate number or any other identifying characteristic you can think of and let the police do their job. You have done your job because your church is safe and nobody has been hurt.
Often times, when people are engaged in a physical altercation, it is because the verbal portion of the confrontation didn’t go so well. There are simple verbal tactics you can use to calm a situation down and there are definite “triggers” that can increase the amount of violence you may face.
Q: Is a knife a good weapon to carry?
A: It depends on how you look at it. From a personal perspective and analyzing how difficult it might be to use a knife on someone, I think most people would agree a knife is a tool that is a last ditch effort to save your own life. Is it appropriate? Within the church security setting, I would have to say it is not appropriate. There are better options for self protection that are less lethal and work better to subdue someone who is attacking you. Never mind the public relations nightmare of having to explain why a church (who professes the love of God to everybody) has its church security team carrying knives for self protection. Who wants to stand before a camera and explain why somebody was stabbed on your property?