July 29, 2016 Cambridge, Ohio
Last SaturdayI had the chance to teach a basic church security class to a newly formed safety team in SE Ohio. The night before I met with the team leader and we discussed the teams efforts to date. About half way through the facility tour and discussion, Gary advised that they had an incident recently where two men of “mid-eastern appearence” had arrived just before the start of service and seated themselves in the rear of the church. They did not seem very interested in the service but were very interested in the facility layout and how the service was conducted.
The actions of the pair did raise concerns and two of the team members stayed very close to the visitors. Towards the end of the service the men were asked if they had any questions. The men had no questions or comments and left shortly after the service ended. The pair has not been seen since, but the event has raised the awareness of the church safety team. We had a number of discussions and created food for thought as we “what iff’ed” the event.
A similar incident in the Dayton region – July 24, 2016
This past Monday I received calls from members of several local churches about a similar event that happened in Kettering. Three similar men were seen at a Catholic church when they entered during a mass. The ushers were somewhat concerned and watched as the two of them were seated and started taking movies and videos. The ushers were concerned and called the local police to advise of the situation. Officers arrived and the pair in the sanctuary was discretely called out of the mass. The officers interviewed the pair; the third person was nowhere to be found. They stated here from Saudia Arabia for the past 5 days. They would only be here a month. They were told them no more videos yet they could stay for the service. Suspicious activities continued. The police were very suspicious. Two vehicles with plates never seen before were found in the parking lot.
Later in the week the story hit the local news and the incident was raging through the local community as the word was spread amount churches.
Considering the attack at the Catholic Church in France, it is time to raise the alert level at all of our churches. Please consider paying close attention to the people coming through the doors. Lock the doors after the start of services; this also encourages the members to arrive on time.
It is time to gather with the team and discuss what to do, based on the following potential incidents:
Person with a weapon, knife, gun or bomb enters the foyer or sanctuary.
A jihadist team attacks the church
A bomb threat is called in during services
How do you notify the team of a critical incident?
Radios, pagers, etc
Codes or plain English
Who responds and can the event be a diversion for other evil people?
Have you alerted the local law enforcement about the existence of your team?
Lots to think about, I will have more thoughts available for you soon.
Let’s keep sharp out there.