Buckled Up for Safety

Defense Gear for Church Safety Teams

Equipped and Qualified for Defense

Seat belt sign

Stand therefore, having fastened on the belt of truth ... and, as shoes for your feet, having put on the readiness given by the gospel of peace (Ephesians 6:14-15).

... and all the equipment for their service (Numbers 4:26b).

... to equip the saints for the work of ministry (Ephesians 4:12).

Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path (Psalm 119:105).


Buckle Up

We are all familiar with the safe driving slogan, "Buckle Up for Safety," which urges us to use our seat & shoulder belts. For Church Safety and Security Teams, this takes on a different connotation.

From ancient times through today, belts have been an important part of security equipment. For instance, a belt was part of the personal armament for Jonathan and Joab (1 Samuel 18:4; 2 Samuel 20:8). This was where they hung their swords, and a dagger, too, if they had one. A small shield could be hung on the side opposite the sword. A long robe could be tucked up into it for better mobility (1 Peter 1:13) [1]. The belt could also hold a waterskin, though it was more likely to be slung across the back. Additionally, a wide belt (such as used by the Romans) fastened tightly could serve as a back brace.

Today, workers, security guards, law enforcement officers, and military personnel buckle up their work belts. For a carpenter or an assembler, this is a tool belt with loops and hanging pockets to hold tools, clips, fasteners, pen/pencil, tape measure, etc. For the others, this is a security belt to hold the tools of their trades, which may be a radio, handcuffs, a baton, a firearm, and ammo.

Likewise, a security belt can be where a Church Safety Team member carries some of the equipment used in guarding the flock, especially items used for defense. Thus, "buckling up" can be extended to mean have equipment for the job, whether essential or just useful.

Essential and Useful

Some of the equipment and supplies are essential, must haves, and some - though not critically essential - are still very useful. A recent article, Equipped to Respond,lists items needed for a Code Blue (medical response). The list here is limited to items related to defense. Also, weapons are reserved for two other articles in this series.

Church Safety Ministry Defense Gear

These items of defense gear for church security are listed by category: Book, Apparel, Communication, Illumination, and Multipurpose Tools. Items for sale in the Sheepdog Church Security Store on Amazon have links to their pages at the SDCS Store.

Book

Man talking to upset woman

Defending the Flock by Kris Maloney.

Sheepdog Church Security founder Kris Maloney has written Defending the Flock for church safety and security ministries, as well as for churches considering establishing such a ministry. In his description of the book, Maloney says,

For too many churches, security is only a passing concern.They lock the doors to the vestibule when services are not being performed. Perhaps they even have some sort of alarm system in place to prevent break-ins. The sad truth is that this is not nearly enough.

At the end of this paragraph he states,

Ultimately, it comes down to ensuring that your congregation, grounds and church are protected by sheepdogs - individuals dedicated to keeping the wolves of the world at bay. We invite you to learn more. Find out for yourself just what steps must be taken in order to protect the God's children.

Apparel

Security Guard Belt - As discussed above, the belt has been worn by warriors and soldiers for thousands of years. Basically, it is the tool belt for safety and security teams, whether in churches, warehouses, industrial plants, the mall - wherever they work to protect lives and property. Besides the items named above, the belt can also hold certain medical supplies, wrist ties, etc. Be sure it is sturdy enough to hold what you need.

Protective Vest - A vest can provide some initial protection for the Safety Team member. While it makes the person look professional, Kevlar under the dapper outer fabric can protect the core organs from gunshots and stabs. Also, identical vests worn by the Safety Team help provide identification.

Identification - Suggested identification methods include T-shirts or polo shirts with the name of the team on the back and/or on the chest. However, local churches can tailor their requirements to meet the expectations of their congregations. Except for a gray person (un-marked), some kind of visible identification is highly recommended. It could be special clothing, or name tags with the name of the team below the person's name.

Safety Banner - A safety banner is a more flamboyant means of identification. Not worn all the time, it can be quickly pulled out of a belt pouch and put on when law enforcement officers are on their way. Then when the police arrive, they can immediately see who the safety/security team members are. Suppose a team member is holding a violent person at bay with a gun? We do not want police mistaking the team member for the attacker.

One such safety banner is the DSM Safety banner, Security Version by DSM Safety Products (DSM stands for "Don't shoot me")

Shoes - These need to be safety shoes with skid-proof soles. The tops should be tough enough to protect the feet. Since the wearers will be on their feet a long time, arch support is a serious consideration. Also, the shoes should be presentable for church, clean and in good condition, since the wearers are representing the church.

Communication

Whistle or Other Personal Alert - Police whistles have been in use a long time. They are still used today in sports and group activities. Other personal alerts are available today, including electronic ones which make a loud noise when a button is pushed. A whistle has a few advantages. First, it does not need batteries. Second, it cannot be activated by accident while in your pocket or pouch. Third, it has a distinct sound, and won't be mistaken for a mobile phone's ringtone.

Two-Way Radio - This is the preferred way of team members communicating with each other. Help in a defensive situation can be called for. They are not limited to the sound of a voice in a room. With headsets or earplugs, they will be discrete, not disturbing those nearby and keeping the conversation confidential. Several handsets can be put into the system, so the whole team can be alerted at once.

Kris recommends the Midland GXT1000VP4 Two-Way Radio (it is available on the SDCS Store on Amazon). He says, "All things considered, they have fairly good range and sound quality. The lower price also makes it possible to equip a lot of volunteers throughout the church".

Along with this, he recommends security headsets: "Clearly, we don't want to disturb other ministries, making these earpieces an essential addition to your radios." These are available on the SDCS Store, as well as replacement open earpieces.

Illumination

Flashlight and/or Tactical Light- When it gets dark, such as at night, inside when the power goes out, and in dark corners, we need to see. In this case, a pocket-sized flashlight comes into use. A popular one for about 20 years has been the Mini Pro Maglite. It has a sturdy case. It is easy to change the batteries. And it is reliable.

A tactical light is more advanced. Tactical lights were first designed to fit on rifles to illuminate a target. The beam can be narrowed for focusing. Kris recommends the Streamlight 88065 Pro Tac. It has adjustable width of illumination, and can be carried in one's pocket.

Multipurpose Tools

Tactical Pen - A tactical pen seems like something right out of James Bond movies or the Mission Impossible television series. Yes, it is a real pen that can write or draw, but is more. The case of the pen houses several survival tools, such as glass breaker, knife, flashlight, screwdriver, etc. Kris recommends the Tactical Pen Self Defense Tool by 2cl direct. This tactical pen is billed as "The only EDC security pen you can carry to pass TSA security check."

Multitool - Many of us are familiar with Swiss Army Knife and Leatherman multitools. There are other quality brands, and the one recommended by Kris is made by Gerber Legendary Blades in Oregon: the Gerber Suspension Multi-Plier [22-01471]. The open-frame handle holds 12 built-in tools. Among these are pliers, knife blades, screwdrivers, saw blade, file, and others. To prevent injuries, it has a safety lock.

Tactical Knife - Not exactly a multitool is the Schrade SCHA3BS Folding Knife. It has assisted opening for use in an emergency, using an ambidextrous button, and it locks open to keep it from folding while in use. There is a short serrated section of the edge next to the handle so it can be used as a saw. The folded knife can be used as a fist weight for defense in an altercation. The multiple uses of this knife, such as cutting restraints, wood, or boxes, make it as much as tool as a weapon.

Other Defense Gear Articles

Other articles in this series are on non-lethal weapons, lethal weapons (especially firearms), and qualifications & certifications for using certain weapons - some of you may be surprised by what devices require certification in some states.

Be sure to listen to the podcast of the article on Sheepdog Church Security Roll Call (link below). Ron Neeley and Kris Maloney will have more for you. At the end of the podcast is the link to a special resource on this theme.

Also, sign up for our monthly newsletter, The Church Guardian (link below).

Resources

Sheepdog Church Security [https://sheepdogchurchsecurity.net/#].

Sheepdog Church Security Online Training [https://sheepdog-church-security.thinkific.com/collections]:

The Church Guardian and Recommended Equipment [https://www.amazon.com/shop/instructor_moloney].

Sheepdog Church Security Store [https://www.amazon.com/shop/instructor_moloney]:

DSM Safety Products:

DSM Safety banner, Security Version [http://www.dsmsafety.com/security.html].

References

  1. In 1 Peter 1:13, the phrase translated in modern versions as "preparing your minds for action" (as in the ESV), literally says "gird up the loins of your mind" (KJV) in the Greek. This is a reference to a laborer tucking up a robe to free the legs for action.
  2. W. Vaughn, "Equipped to Respond", Sheepdog Church Security, May 28, 2018 [https://sheepdogchurchsecurity.net/articles/equipped-to-respond/].