An article in the series Equipping for Safety
In the Bible
... And the people of Israel went up out of the land of Egypt equipped for battle (Exodus 13:18b).
And he will appoint for himself ... some ... to make his implements of war and the equipment of his chariots (1 Samuel 8:12)
So on the day of the battle there was neither sword nor spear found in the hand of any of the people with Saul and Jonathan, but Saul and Jonathan his son had them (1 Samuel 13:22).
So David prevailed over the Philistine with a sling and with a stone, and struck the Philistine and killed him. There was no sword in the hand of David (1 Samuel 17:50).
And the priest gave to the captains the spears and shields that had been King David's, which were in the house of the Lord (2 Kings 11:10).
They were bowmen and could shoot arrows and sling stones with either the right or the left hand… (1 Chronicles 12:2).
He also built Upper Beth-horon and Lower Beth-horon, fortified cities with walls, gates, and bars (2 Chronicles 8:5).
... the doors being locked where the disciples were for fear ... (John 20:19).
On the Web
Pasadena, Texas, December 13, 2019 - The warm-up of the opening night of the annual Christmas program at a Pasadena church was punctuated by a man wielding a screwdriver. He was driving erratically in the parking lot. Two off-duty law enforcement officers on the security team tried to stop him. The man jumped out of his car and entered the church with a screwdriver in his hand. He ran down the aisle to the orchestra pit, followed by the officers, who subdued him with pepper spray.
Houston, Texas, May 2017 - A church neighbor, who had filed an objection with the city to the church's 12-foot high fence, was stopped by a police officer in front of the church. One issue is whether he was on the sidewalk or partly in the church's parking lot, which extends to the sidewalk. He refused to show his ID since the officer had no cause to detain him. In turn he was tased. He claims the officer was acting on behalf of the church's leaders. He was charged with resisting arrest. The neighbor sued the church and the officer for unlawful detention and excessive use of force.
Wilmington, Delaware, September 14, 2014 - A fire started in the basement of a church while the choir was preparing for the morning service. They were quickly evacuated. The source of the fire was a heater.
San Diego, California, Last Updated: October 14, 2020 - Many institutions and organizations have advice on evacuating persons with disabilities during a fire or other emergency. The University of California, San Diego has nine very specific and helpful instructions on evacuations "for individuals who may need special assistance," including Know how to help people using crutches, canes, or walkers, Know how to help people who use wheelchairs, and Know how to use evacuation chairs. In these cases it helps to have certain equipment on hand, such as an evacuation chair. Other items, not specifically named, could be gait belts, a walker, and a stretcher.
Click *HERE* to get our free downloadable special resource for December, Equipped for Success: Recommended Essential Equipment (A Resource of Sheepdog Church Security). Along with this resource, you'll also receive Sheepdog Church Security's weekly emails and our monthly newsletter, The Church Guardian.
To Defend and to Rescue
Our mission as sheepdogs is to protect the flock. This includes prevention, defense, and rescue. For example, security assessments, threat assessments, and screening of applicants are parts of prevention; verbal de-escalation, unarmed self-defense, and non-lethal/less-lethal weapons are parts of defense; while medical response, evacuation and lockdowns are parts of rescue. Some of the equipment and supplies recommended for a Church Safety Team are primarily for defense and rescue.
A general caveat is that defense equipment is subject to state and local laws. Even some rescue items may be regulated.
Tools of Defense
Defensive tools include shielding and weapons. Shielding includes defensive wear, such as impact armor (e.g. Kevlar vests), face masks, shin guards, and hard-top shoes. Realistically, except for the shoes, these items are seldom used in church security work. If a Safety Team member wears a face shield now, it is probably for COVID19.
Weapons designed for defense, are pepper spray, electric-discharge devices (EDDs), batons, kubotans, brass knuckles, switchblades, and firearms. Not all of these are deemed suitable for church security, but some are. Switchblades and brass knuckles are illegal in many jurisdictions, especially those where gang violence is a perennial problem.
Many people will be surprised to learn that pepper spray is regulated in many places. Many who've been pepper-sprayed have had problems with their eyes and breathing. The primary ingredient in pepper spray is oleoresin capsicum (OC), the stuff that makes peppers hot. Many pepper spray formulas also include some form of tear gas, which is regulated in most places. Check state and local regulations before arming yourself with pepper spray - this may also influence the type of spray you get.
The Sheepdog Church Security Store on Amazon lists the SABRE Advanced Compact Pepper Spray. This police-strength self-defense spray has a 3-in-1 Formula (Pepper Spray, CS Tear Gas & UV Marking Dye).
Electric Discharge Devices (EDDs)
EDDs include stun guns and Tasers. These devices have capacitors which are charged by small batteries. You may be surprised by how much charge a capacitor can build up from one AAA battery. A stun gun depends on direct contact with two electrodes. They have to make contact with the skin or through the clothing to discharge the electric current. The sudden electric current is a shock to the target's nervous system. It can make him or her unsteady, partially paralyzed, and disoriented. Some tactical flashlights include stun guns.
A Taser is a stun gun operating at a distance. It fires two wires with barbed electrodes at the ends. These barbs can penetrate light clothing to make contact and discharge. Current Taser models can hold more than one load - the user can fire a second or third shot before reloading. As with pepper spray, first check local regulations.
The SDCS Store has the Taser Pulse with 2 cartridges and an LED laser. The laser shows where the Taser will hit when fired. The Store also lists an Elite Force Holster for the Taser Pulse.
These are striking weapons used as key-ring fobs. They may be regulated in some areas. On the practical side, almost anything hard you can wrap your hand around, such as a tactical flashlight, can be used as a kubotan.
Batons are traditional police weapons used for pain compliance, but can also be used to trip a subject. They are lighter than baseball bats, but can still do a lot of damage depending on how they are used. Because of their potential for severe bodily injury (sometimes death), batons are frequently restricted to use by law enforcement officers. Some jurisdictions require registration and training for baton users.
On a Church Safety Team, we don't carry a knife primarily as a weapon, but as a utilitarian tool for cutting things that need immediate cutting, such as a box, a seat belt, or debris. However, it can serve as a defensive weapon if needed. The SDCS Store on Amazon lists the Schrade SCHA3BS 7.3in Assisted Opening Folding Knife.
Tools of Rescue
For now, we'll consider evacuations as rescue operations, because their purpose is to get people out of danger and to safety. Related to rescue actions are lockdowns. Here the purpose is to isolate or shield people from danger. There is equipment to use in both evacuations and lockdowns.
Safety Team members will direct or lead an evacuation. In many of these situations, lights may be off or the evacuation is at night. In either case, a lighted traffic wand is essential. The Sheepdog Church Security Store on Amazon has the UltraFire WF502B Traffic Control Wand Led Flashlight.
Helping the Impaired
In a church are people who will need some kind of assistance in evacuating. Examples are infants, small children, and persons with impaired vision, hearing, or mobility. Some individuals may have medical conditions or have been injured.
Some persons may have difficulty walking and need a little help holding their balance. Safety Team members or congregants trained to assist patients in healthcare facilities can use a gait belt. This goes around the evacuee's torso. One or two helpers hold onto the belt to steady and guide the person. Amazon has a variety of gait belts, ranging in price from less than $6 to over $100. Most are less than $20.
Some persons may be able to sit, but cannot walk. If your church is all on one floor, a wheelchair should be sufficient. However, if there are steps to navigate, a lift chair is needed. The LINE2design Stair Chair in the SDCS Store lets two carriers take it up or down stairs without anyone having to back up. It also has lap and torso straps to hold the evacuee securely.
Leading several small children out in an emergency can be a challenge, especially keeping them together, in line, and moving along. This is what walking ropes were designed for. Most of us have seen pre-school and kindergarten teachers going down a sidewalk with their charges in tow holding on to a rope or cord. The SDCS Store has the Brand New World WR99 Safety Walking Rope, with enough handles for 12 children and 2 adults.
There is also equipment for evacuating the nursery. The most effective nursery evacuation device is a wheeled crib large enough to hold a few infants. A nursery attendant can head for the exit with more than one child and with a hand free for opening doors. The SDCS Store has an evacuation crib, the Child Craft Safe Haven Daycare Evacuation Compact Crib with Casters. It has a solid steel frame and large casters with pedal locks. The crib is clearly marked for evacuation. A comparison of an evacuation crib and a regular crib shows a clear difference in the casters.
Securing a Lockdown
In an active shooter situation, when people cannot evacuate, the next option is to hide. This is better when the hiding place can be locked, secured against the attacker, in other words, a lockdown. There are many ways of securing a room for a lockdown. The method should take into consideration the people using it. It has to be simple, easy enough for anyone, and quick. It should be able to be opened quickly in case the lockdown becomes an evacuation.
Another consideration is locking the door without increasing your vulnerability, no matter how brief. This means locking the door without having to first open it. A three-part solution is to have a push-button lock on the door handle, a deadbolt, and a door jammer. The first two are readily available, both individually and in sets. The door jammer should be mounted on the door and operable with one's foot. The SDCS Store has such a door jammer, the Gotega Door Stopper. It is easy to install, has a foot lever on top, and is adjustable. It is sold in packs of two.
The Church Safety Ministry mission of protecting the flock includes defense and rescue. There are several items which are useful - even essential - for these tasks. Some of them are available on the Sheepdog Church Security Store on Amazon.
There Is More
This is one of five articles in the series Equipping for Safety. The others are "Safety for the Holidays" (Staying Safe and Healthy through the Holiday Season), "Equipping the Mind" (Learning about Safety and Security), "Equipping the Hands" (Tools for Safety), and "Equipping to Treat the Hurting" (Tools and Supplies for Medical Response).
- Jonathan Martinez, "Screwdriver-wielding man interrupts Christmas concert at First Baptist Church of Pasadena," KPRC Click2Houston, December 13, 2019 [https://www.click2houston.com/news/local/2019/12/14/screwdriver-wielding-man-interrupts-christmas-concert-at-first-baptist-church-of-pasadena/].
- Deborah Wrigley, "Man sues church and HPD officer after Taser used on him," ABC13, November 21, 2019 [https://abc13.com/fifth-ward-activist-assault-claim-hpd-houston-police/5712116/].
- Eva Pilgrim, "Delaware church evacuated due to fire," 6ABC, September 14, 2014 [https://6abc.com/fire-wilmington-delaware-church/308122/].
- Staff, "Emergency Evacuation for People With Disabilities," UC San Diego, Last Updated: October 14, 2020 [https://blink.ucsd.edu/safety/emergencies/preparedness/get-ready/disabilities.html].
- Kris Moloney, "Recommended Essential Equipment," Sheepdog Church Security [https://sheepdog-church-security.ck.page/8ad20a0b70].
- Sheepdog Church Security: Recommended Equipment for Safety Ministries on Amazon [https://www.amazon.com/shop/instructor_moloney].
- "SABRE ADVANCED Compact Pepper Spray with Clip," Sheepdog Church Security: Recommended Equipment for Safety Ministries on Amazon .
- "Taser Pulse with 2 Cartridges, LED Laser," Sheepdog Church Security: Recommended Equipment for Safety Ministries on Amazon [https://www.amazon.com/dp/B01MV7BOUT/?ref=exp_instructor_moloney_dp_vv_d].
- "Elite Force Holsters," Sheepdog Church Security: Recommended Equipment for Safety Ministries on Amazon [https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07GDS67QL/?ref=exp_instructor_moloney_dp_vv_d].
- "Schrade SCHA3BS 7.3in High Carbon S.S. Assisted Opening Folding Knife with 2.9in Tanto Blade and Aluminum Handle for Outdoor Survival, Tactical and EDC," Sheepdog Church Security: Recommended Equipment for Safety Ministries on Amazon [https://www.amazon.com/dp/B00BCMPYQ0/?ref=exp_instructor_moloney_dp_vv_d].
- "UltraFire WF502B Traffic Control Wand Led Flashlight,Super Bright XP-L V6 LED 980 Lumens,Safety Signal Light Torch with Cone,5 Modes," Sheepdog Church Security: Recommended Equipment for Safety Ministries on Amazon [https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07DRHZWYV/?ref=exp_instructor_moloney_dp_vv_d].
- "LINE2design Stair Chair 70010-BL EMS Emergency Evacuation Medical Transport Chair," Sheepdog Church Security: Recommended Equipment for Safety Ministries on Amazon [https://www.amazon.com/dp/B01GIL1W3I/?ref=exp_instructor_moloney_dp_vv_d].
- "Brand New World WR99 Safety Walking Rope," Sheepdog Church Security: Recommended Equipment for Safety Ministries on Amazon [https://www.amazon.com/dp/B001AZ9UCI/?ref=exp_instructor_moloney_dp_vv_d].
- "Child Craft Safe Haven Daycare Evacuation Compact Crib with Casters," Sheepdog Church Security: Recommended Equipment for Safety Ministries on Amazon [https://www.amazon.com/dp/B01AXN1XYK/?ref=exp_instructor_moloney_dp_vv_d].
- "Gotega Door Stopper, 2 Packs Kickdown Door Stop with One Touch Adjustable Height and Rubber Tip 4 Inches, Door Stops," Sheepdog Church Security: Recommended Equipment for Safety Ministries on Amazon [https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07SHKQWWM/?ref=exp_instructor_moloney_dp_vv_d].