After posting the article/video yesterday I received a few emails with questions. I believe every incident should be examined in light of helping others should they find themselves in this type of situation. As always, there are many ways to approach it, but often there are good, better and best options:
Greetings Glen and thanks for the message and the video clip, which I would like to discuss with you here.
Question: I wish I had seen it from the start of the interuption, to see where the subject came from and how he got on the stage. He was way to close before their Safety or Security Team members got to him.
Answer: It appears he came from the side using the stairs. They appeared to have people stationed at the front of the auditorium. One other criticism I received is they didn’t have anyone standing right up front protecting the pastor. This is the difference between a standard protection detail and the balancing act of providing security in church. Most churches/pastors don’t want to appear heavy handed, and I can’t blame them. Having a security person standing at the front of the stage during the sermon would be a bit distracting and give the pastor an aura of self importance in need of a bodyguard. However, depending on manpower, people could be stationed at the side of the stage or near the orchestra to intervene more quickly. I do not have information on whether people were placed in these locations.
Question: I also wonder why they took him out up the center aisle so he could continue to disrupt the service with his shouting. It would seem to have been better to go out a side door close to the stage, which I would think would have been quicker.
Answer: Not knowing the lay out of the church, I can’t say if there were exits toward the front of the room. However, given the fact that anyone can allege anything at anytime, I see no harm in allowing your activities to be seen by a host of people in the auditorium or to be videotaped while doing them. I think the men did a great job of assessing the person. They didn’t see any weapons, and simply escorting him out was an appropriate response. The congregation was already interrupted, so I don’t see where 30 seconds more interruption really caused a problem.
Question: A couple of questions come to mind after watching the video. Please view this a constructive, not bashing, as I realize church security has huge challenges and is often a thankless job. We often need to learn the hard way, hopefully on a low level incident. A post incident debrief should address:
Answer: Thanks for your input.
Question: Who watches the audience while the pastor is at the pulpit?
Answer: I don’t know in this situation. Keeping in mind many churches don’t have a lot of resources, and the way security is done is different everywhere, they may have placed the few people they had toward the front. As mentioned above, placing someone on stage in the orchestra or toward the side of the stage looking out may have been a good solution with a low profile. We have in the past placed one up front and one in the back row with radio contact to keep an eye on things, but it just comes down to available volunteers for most churches.
Question: Why were the steps left unguarded?
Answer: I don’t know if they were or how many people they had available to them.
Question: How soon were security team members aware of the threat?
Answer: It appears they found out the moment the cameras found out. Given the fact the man stayed a few feet away and didn’t attack the pastor, allowed them a few moments to get between the threat and the pastor. The video was edited by the You Tube poster, so I don’t know how long it went on, but it appears it began with the whistle.
Question: Why didn’t anyone get between the threat and the protectee before he could have tackled, stabbed, punched, etc., the pastor?
Answer: Again, keeping in mind many churches don’t take the position the pastor needs an executive protection teeam versus keeping a campus safe. While some churches provide security for the pastor, most pastors are uncomfortable with this idea. In my view they did intervene and place their bodies between the man and the pastor. It wasn’t fast, but I think they were evaluating as they moved so they didn’t over-react.
Question: Was the subject property identified post incident? Name, address, date of birth, vehicle license plate, other information?
Answer: I don’t know this either, but I imagine the police were contacted and a report was filed and he was probably trespassed from the property. Most security teams who don’t have police officers on staff, so they do not have the right to demand identification. Our position is church security teams don’t act as law enforcement, they simply intervene/isolate only if absolutely necessary, and they guide the auhtorities to the problem when they arrive. If he was removed from the church and sent on his way, getting his plate number would be pretty easy and it can be passed on the law enforcement.
Question: Was a threat profile put together, including a thorough check of prior criminal, civil, and family court filings at the county court level for all known residences within the last 10 years?
Answer: Again, churches are limited here. Unless they possess information garnered from police reports, this would be difficult to do. Usually an SSN is needed to perform background checks, and many states omit this information from police reports.
Question: The EP team did a good job of not escalating, but as far as protection, in my opinion this video serves as an example of what not to do.
Answer: This is where you and I differ, which is good because it allows for intelligent discussion. The team isn’t an Executive Protection Team, I don’t even know if they had an official Church Security Team. However, the movements were coordinated, so I think they put thought into a plan beforehand. The problem person was removed without a big scene, over-reaction, or anyone being harmed, so in the end, it was a good result. They moved, surrounded, and escorted him out while communicating.
Have any thoughts or comments of your own, feel free to comment below.