Determine, Develop, Drill, Defend
Based on the Sheepdog Church Security training course
Active Shooter Neutralization and Lock Down Drills
In The Bible
As it is written, “For your sake we are being killed all the day long; we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered” (Romans 8:36 - quoting Psalm 44:22).
The prudent sees danger and hides himself, but the simple go on and suffer for it (Proverbs 27:12).
So then let us not sleep, as others do, but let us keep awake and be sober (1 Thessalonians 5:6).
I inspected the walls of Jerusalem that were broken down and its gates that had been destroyed by fire (Nehemiah 2:13).
[Jesus] said to them, “But now let the one who has a moneybag take it, and likewise a knapsack. And let the one who has no sword sell his cloak and buy one" (Luke 22:36).
In the News
News stories recounted in other articles show how lives were spared in some churches because they were prepared, while in other locations the results were devastating.
- Members in an African American church in Charleston did not suspect the young white man who came into their Bible study one Wednesday evening. He killed nine. 
- A former member of a church in Metropolitan Nashville killed a member who'd just left after the service, then stormed in and wounded others. An usher wrestled him for his handgun, ending the attack. That young man happened to be there and to act. 
- A man in Texas with a history of domestic violence had been threatening his mother-in-law. He shot up her church one Sunday morning, killing about half the congregation, including her mother. They were not prepared. 
- In Colorado, an active shooter killed two and wounded two others in a church parking lot. After he entered the church's foyer, he was shot and disabled by a church security team member. They had a team in place who knew what to do. 
A Prudent Defense
As the verses above indicate, it is wise to be ready to defend the flock against any potential threats, especially (1) the most likely, and (2) the most devastating. To put an active shooter response into place in our church and carry it out, we do four things: Determine, Develop, Drill, and Defend:
- Determine - see the need and decide to meet it.
- Develop - work with others in the Safety Ministry to develop the response (including training).
- Drill - practice what is learned in the course.
- Defend - put this into action.
Determination is the decision-making process.
- See the Need: As stated in another article, the chance that any one local church will be the target of an active shooter (aka, "active killer") may be small, but the consequences of such an assault are horrendous enough that we should be ready to respond - just in case. In this regard, it is similar to a tornado strike. Statistics indicate that deadly attacks against places of worship have been increasing in recent years, which means the chances are also increasing.
- Discuss Meeting the Need: Once our church sees the need, the Church Safety Committee discusses what to do to address the need. If the church does not have a safety ministry (by whatever name), this along with fire prevention and drills are two good reasons to start one,.
- Decide to Implement an Active Shooter Response: This decision has to be made within the guidelines and protocols for your congregation and denomination or tradition. This may be, for some, solely the prerogative of the Safety Ministry. Most churches require approval of a board. In some groups, this has to be approved by a diocese's or synod's bishop, a district superintendent, a regional council, etc.
This is where we actually build the Active Shooter Response.
- Facility Assessment: Discover the church's readiness for an active shooter incident. This covers issues of access control, lockdown suitability of classrooms and meeting areas, detection and monitoring capability, communications, attack resistance, etc.
- Plan Course of Action: Outline the order of what the Safety Ministry will do. Get any needed materials. When needed, secure approval for parts of the plan.
This also includes planning evacuation and lockdown procedures best suited to the church's facilities. Plan how the Safety Team will work together for an incident. This will depend on the church's layout and the size of the team.
- Prepare the Facility: This is done in cooperation with the governing board of the congregation, since it involves making changes to the church's building(s). Some of the more expensive items could be new entry doors, classroom and office doors, and safety glass in windows. Redesigning areas of the church building would be even more expensive. Other items may be a new or upgraded surveillance system, classroom phones or radios, etc.
Realistically, we might not be able to have everything we would like. In that case, we have to prioritize, doing only what is most critical, passing on the rest for now.
- Prepare the People: Train safety ministry members, church pastors, staff, and others. For the Safety Team members, Sheepdog Church Security has several training courses available , including "Active Shooter Neutralization and Lock Down Drills" .
The old saying is, "Practice makes perfect." In other words, we learn best by doing, by acting out what we have read, heard, and seen. For an immediate and correct response in a fast-moving emergency situation, such as an armed assault, these need to become second nature, so that the team members will make the right decisions and take the right actions at critical moments.
There are certain procedures to be learned by safety team members. Examples are, what will you do if you are in a certain place (such as the sanctuary) when notified of an active killer inside the church. What if you are in the Youth & Children's Department?
- Detection Drills: This is best with smaller groups, which means not all members drill at the same time. These can also be impromptu drills for whoever is present. This means several small drills throughout the year, with everyone drilling at least a few times. Practice spotting hidden weapons, certain behavioral cues, etc. It could be one member asking another what they see in a certain person. These kinds of drills are like ongoing games and can be fun.
- Response Drills: These are specific responses in specific situations. During an active killer response drill, practice several scenarios. This trains the participants in making on-the-spot decisions and not having a "not-in-my-playbook" reaction.
- Evacuation/Lockdown Drills: If an armed assailant comes into the church, some areas such as the sanctuary, will be hard or impossible to lock down. So in an Armed Intruder Drill, congregants in the sanctuary will practice evacuate or hide, while those in classrooms or meeting rooms with lockable doors will practice locking down.
- In-Their-Face Engagement Drills: "OK, now. What do we do if we can't run, hide, or lock down, and the killer comes into the room?" The answer, "Get in his face!" It worked for an usher in Tennessee. Even young children can practice this: yelling, screaming, throwing whatever can be thrown. Bigger kids and adults can practice swarming the shooter, immobilizing him and disarming him, holding him down. Talk about a surprise, being targeted by the targets! Call it Safety in Numbers.
Defending the church is not just an event, but an ongoing process.
- Actively Maintain Vigilence: As defenders of the flock, we are in a constant defense readiness. In the Colors of Awareness, when we are at church, especially when on duty, we are at Level Yellow - alert and ready.
- Maintain Skill Levels: Practice some skills, such as detection, on your own. Wherever you are, whether in the church, at work, or in a store, mentally take note of your surroundings and think of what you'll do if an armed attacker starts shooting. Some of the questions to ask yourself are, "How would I get out?", "Where can I hide?" and "Where can I take a defensive position?"
- Train New Team Members: New members can join a Church Security Team any time during the year. They need to be oriented and trained. The team leader or Safety Director should have an annual training session for everyone, but new members should not have to wait a few months to a year to get their initial training.
Through the year there is special training in certain subjects, such as Active Shooter Neutralization and Lock Down Drills in November. Sheepdog Church Security has developed online training courses so that (1) members do not have to wait for a class to receive training, (2) they can refresh their training at any time, and (3) they do not have to miss out because of being unable to take a class at a certain time and place.
To learn more about actuating an active shooter response, get Sheepdog Church Security's free download here: _______________ .
- Sheepdog Church Security, TrainingCourses, "Active Shooter Neutralization and Lock Down Drills" [https://sheepdog-church-security.thinkific.com/courses/active-shooter-neutralization-and-lock-down-drills].
- Wikipedia, "Charleston church shooting" [https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Charleston_church_shooting].
- Boucher, D., J. Ebert, N. Allison, N. Rau, A. Wadhwani, and N. De Gennaro, "How the Nashville church shooting unfolded: A timeline", The Tennessean, Published 2:57 p.m. CT Sept. 25, 2017 | Updated 12:08 a.m. CT Sept. 26, 2017 [https://www.tennessean.com/story/news/crime/2017/09/25/how-nashville-church-shooting-burnette-chapel-church-christ-unfolded-timeline/700049001/].
- Wikipedia, "Sutherland Springs church shooting" [https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sutherland_Springs_church_shooting].
- Wikipedia, "2007 Colorado YWAM and New Life shootings" [https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2007_Colorado_YWAM_and_New_Life_shootings].
- 6. Sheepdog Church Security, TrainingMaterials [https://sheepdog-church-security.thinkific.com/].