Equipped for Communicating
An article in the Sheepdog Church Security series on Gear, Guns, and Weapons Qualification
In the Bible
Then Joshua called the twelve men from the people of Israel, whom he had appointed, a man from each tribe (Joshua 4:4).
So the men arose and went, and Joshua charged those who went to write the description of the land ... So the men went and passed up and down in the land and wrote in a book a description of it by towns in seven divisions (Joshua 18:8-9).
And Hiram sent to Solomon, saying, “I have heard the message that you have sent to me (1 Kings 5:8).
Hezekiah sent to all Israel and Judah, and wrote letters also to Ephraim and Manasseh, that they should come to the house of the Lord at Jerusalem to keep the Passover to the Lord, the God of Israel (2 Chronicles 30:1).
And Shaphan the secretary came to the king, and reported to the king (2 Kings 22:9).
In the News
Means of Communication: Internet
Nationwide, December 23, 2016 - A security alert warned of a call by ISIS for lone-wolf attacks on churches during services on Christmas Eve and Christmas. This alert was accompanied by the addresses of churches in the United States, Canada, and three European nations.
Regulations for Communication Technology: Two-Way Radios
Washington, DC, Last Updated/Reviewed on December 31, 2019 - The Federal Communications Commission has posted guidelines for personal radio services, such as Family Radio Services (FRS) and General Mobile Radio Services (GMRS). They also have mobile radio guidelines for Industrial / Business Licensing. These cover the options for Church Safety Team radios.
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The Key to Working Together
To work together, a Church Safety Team has to communicate. Communication is a key to coordination. We also need to communicate with church leadership and staff, church members, those in attendance, and outside agencies (law enforcement, medical responders, fire department, etc.). This begins with proposing and planning your Church Safety Ministry, continues through recruitment and training, and is ongoing in regular operations.
Three common means of communication are written materials, slides or screens (in training sessions and presentations), and talking. The most common mode of operational communication is speech - personal face-to-face, speaking to a group, and using equipment for remote communication. This equipment may be real-time voice or delayed-time voice mail/memo.
Another essential means of communication is personal writing. Besides notes and memos, this includes incident reports, log entries, and investigation and performance reports.
Available Communication Equipment and Supplies
The only communications equipment in the Sheepdog Church Security (SDCS) Store on Amazon are two-way radios and accessories. Listings may be updated by the time this article is published. There are several other supplies not in the SDCS Store.
In the SDCS Store
Currently the SDCS Store has sets of personal two-way radios, headsets, ear pieces, and a vehicle or desktop two-way radio. As stated above, because of updated FCC guidelines, these selections may be changed. The issue is radio classifications and FCC licensing requirements. Under Personal Radio Services are Family Radio Services (FRS), which do not require operator licensing, and General Mobile Radio Services (GMRS), which now require each operator to be individually licensed. Accordingly, we will also include two alternative selections which do not require each member of the Church Safety Team to be licensed. If you do want to be licensed, the FCC can be contacted at (877) 480-3201.
Midland GXT1000VP4 50 Channel GMRS Two-Way Radio - These walkie-talkie GMRS radios are available in packs of 4, 6, 8, or 10 units. There are 50 channels, channel scanning, and a range of up to 36-miles. They are waterproof for outdoor use. With 142 security codes, you can keep conversations within the system. A bonus feature is weather radio scanning and alerts. Due to FCC restrictions, these no longer include the FRS rating.
Midland AVPH3 Transparent Security Headsets with PTT/VOX - Headsets enable team members to hear conversations over the radio without disturbing a service, class, or event. Being transparent, they are not distracting and do not attract unwanted attention (except from some very observant persons).
This headset includes an inline PTT (push-to-talk) button and a lapel clip. The radio itself can remain on the belt - it does not have to be always held. It can even be hidden under a suit coat, sport jacket, or blazer.
This headset is also compatible with other Midland two-way radios.
3 Pack Semi-Custom Open Ear Inserts - Right (Small, Medium, Large) by The Comm Guys - The part we put into our ears will need to be changed from time-to-time. These ear inserts are for the right ear. They are open so you can hear what"s going on around you while monitoring the radio. With three sizes, you can find the right size for your ear.
Midland - MXT115, 15 Watt GMRS MicroMobile Two-Way Radio - This more powerful radio is intended for use in a vehicle but it can be set in a Safety Team office as a base station. Since it is a GMRS radio, its operator needs a GMRS license from the FCC. However, its use for the Church Safety Team depends on whether it can communicate with team members" radios.
The alternative radios we list here are an Industrial / Business Licensing (IBL) radio and an FRS radio, both by Midland. Before purchasing IBL or FRS radios, check the SDCS Store to see whether any are listed there.
Midland Consumer Radio BR200 2W 16 Channel UHF Business Band Portable - This is a business Band radio. Only the business (in this case, the church) needs a license. All authorized users are covered. At $359.96 for a 4-pack, this radio set is more expensive than the Midland GXT1000VP4 above and the FRS set listed below. Use the Midland Consumer Radio BA3 Concealed Headset for Business Radios. These have the transparent acoustic tubes and earpieces.
Midland - LXT600VP3, 36 Channel FRS Two-Way Radio - These radios have a maximum range of 30 miles. They have 36 channels, 121 security codes, and NOAA weather alerts. For power, you can use AAA batteries or a power pack. This is USB rechargeable. This radio is rated by customers at 4.7 of 5 stars. It can use the same headset as the Midland GXT1000VP4 (above).
Communication Equipment Not in Store
Most of the communication tools useful in a Church Safety Ministry are not in the SDCS Store on Amazon. Some of them are electronic, others are not. Some ancient means of communicating are still used today, although with updated designs and materials. Many of us can quickly compile most of this list:
- Mobile phone
- Desktop computer
- Mass-notification system or service
- Public address system
- Alarm alert app
- Surveillance cameras and monitor(s)
- Pen/pencil and writing tablet/notebook
- Report forms
Almost everyone has a mobile phone. Also called a cell or wireless phone, you can call from almost anywhere - that is, any place that has wireless service. By setting up a quick-call directory and groups, you can have instant connection with your contacts. You can also send/receive individual and group text messages. However, Church Safety Team communication while on duty is better managed using the team"s two-way radio system. One advantage of a mobile phone, though, is that a team member can call 911 without first going to the office.
There are other uses for a mobile phone, some with the equipment mentioned below. A team member on patrol can use the camera to take photos of evidence. Voice memos or conversations can be recorded, and the notepad app can be used to take notes.
Physically Rolodexing is now obsolete. Going through the church phone directory or group roster and calling everybody one-by-one with the same message is no longer necessary. Now there are mass-messaging services. The one that Sheepdog Church Security has partnered with is Alert.Church. You can call team members to remind them of a meeting or inform them of schedule changes. All church members can be notified of the delay or cancellation of a service or event. Prayer requests and general notifications can be sent. One advantage that Alert.Church has over several other services is that when church members want to be on the call list, they can enroll themselves without waiting for someone else to put them on the list.
Public Address System
I know some people think of public address systems as B.C. - ancient history. Almost all of us attended schools where that little box high on the classroom wall gave announcements or called for someone to come to the office. Well, they"re still in use today, and not just in school. You"re in the supermarket, and the piped-in music you hear is interrupted by a message. It could be a mess to clean up in a Grocery aisle, or for someone to call a certain extension. It could be a medical emergency, or someone"s car lights are on.
A public address system in a church could notify attenders of an emergency, such as, "Parents with Token Number 28, please go to the Childcare Center," or, "We need to evacuate the building. Please follow your teacher or group leader. If you are in the Sanctuary, follow the lead of the ushers."
Alarm Alert App
If a fire alarm or an entry alarm is triggered, you want to know what and where it is. You could be at one end of the church and the alarm at the other. On the other hand, the alarm may go off when no one is there - at least no one that should be there. Some alarm systems can send an alert to key persons" phones. This could be the Church Safety Director, a board member, or the pastor. The person responsible for maintenance could be notified of freezing temperatures inside the church in time to restart the heat or drain the pipes before they freeze.
Surveillance Cameras and Monitor(s)
Like the alarm alert, this is not interpersonal communication, but the church"s security system communicating with the Safety Team. This works when you have a packed church, but there is suspicious activity, such as at a window or a side door. A Safety Team member in the foyer may have a fixed monitor in view. Safety Team Leaders can have the cameras linked into their phones or tablets along with the alarm alert. If they get an alert, they can see what it looks like.
Pen or Pencil and Tablet or Notebook
This is the oldest kind of church safety equipment. For thousands of years, people have been writing notes and sending them to others. Every Safety Team member should carry something to write with and something to write on. The simplest is a pen or pencil and a pocket tablet, and you don"t have to be concerned about the battery being low. A note may be given to someone, or it could be the preserved memory for a report or a log entry.
This is official communication. It might not be read right away, but the information entered into a logbook is there to be read. It may become part of an investigation, or just let the Safety Director know how the day went. It could be used in filling out an incident report.
Every Church Safety Team needs to have incident report forms on hand. Each incident requiring a response by the safety team needs an incident report. Each report has spaces for the kinds of information, such as date, time, place, persons involved, what happened, and the response. An incident report should be filled out by the responding Safety Team member(s) and be filed with the Safety Director. Having forms readily available makes this possible. Some reproducible forms are included in the Training BundleSecurity Team Fundamentals v4.
Signs are an important means of communication for safety and information. Some signs are reusable, such as "Caution! Wet Floor." Other useful signs are "Detour," "Do Not Enter," and "This way to [Event]." Permanent signs include "Exit" and "Exit →" and directions to rooms or departments.
Communication is a key to ensuring the safety of those attending your church: communicating within the Church Safety Ministry, with the church"s leadership and staff, with teachers and group leaders, with church members and other attendees, and with emergency services and the general public. We need to be equipped for effective communication.
There Is More
The other three articles in this series on Gear, Guns, and Weapons Qualification are "Learning and Wearing" (Reading Resources and Apparel for Church Safety Teams), "What's on Hand?" (Tools and Supplies), and "On the Defense" (Weapons, Qualification, and Certification).
- Glen Evans, "Alert: ISIS Calls For Lone Wolf Attacks On Churches This Christmas," Church Security Alliance, December 23, 2016 [https://churchsecurityalliance.com/alert-isis-calls-for-lone-wolf-attacks-on-churches-this-christmas/].
- FCC Staff, "Personal Radio Services," Federal Communications Commission [https://www.fcc.gov/consumers/guides/personal-radio-services-prs-keeping-touch].
- FCC Staff, "Industrial / Business Licensing," Federal Communications Commission [https://www.fcc.gov/wireless/bureau-divisions/mobility-division/industrial-business/industrial-business-licensing].
- Kris Moloney, "Recommended Equipment for Safety Ministries," Sheepdog Church Security [https://sheepdog-church-security.ck.page/8ad20a0b70].
- Kris Moloney and Malene Little, "Safety Ministry Proposal and Starter Kit," Sheepdog Church Security, Courses [https://sheepdog-church-security.thinkific.com/courses/safety-ministry-proposal-and-starter-kit].
- Sheepdog Church Security Store on Amazon [https://www.amazon.com/shop/instructor_moloney].
- Midland GXT1000VP4 50 Channel GMRS Two-Way Radio, Sheepdog Church Security Store on Amazon [https://www.amazon.com/dp/B01786WDT4/?ref=exp_instructor_moloney_dp_vv_d].
- Midland AVPH3 Transparent Security Headsets with PTT/VOX, Sheepdog Church Security Store on Amazon [https://www.amazon.com/dp/B000CNAEEW/?ref=exp_instructor_moloney_dp_vv_d].
- 3 Pack Semi-Custom Open Ear Inserts - Right (Small, Medium, Large) by The Comm Guys, Sheepdog Church Security Store on Amazon [https://www.amazon.com/dp/B012YLZL38/?ref=exp_instructor_moloney_dp_vv_d].
- Midland - MXT115, 15 Watt GMRS MicroMobile Two-Way Radio, Sheepdog Church Security Store on Amazon [https://www.amazon.com/dp/B01MUGZ5XC/?ref=exp_instructor_moloney_dp_vv_d].
- Midland Consumer Radio BR200 2W 16 Channel UHF Business Band Portable, Amazon [https://www.amazon.com/Midland-Consumer-BR200-Business-Portable/dp/B071Y8LN4M/].
- Midland Consumer Radio BA3 Concealed Headset for Business Radios, Amazon [https://www.amazon.com/Midland-Consumer-BA3-Concealed-Business/dp/B06ZYXMJ9B/].
- Midland - LXT600VP3, 36 Channel FRS Two-Way Radio, Amazon [https://www.amazon.com/Midland-LXT600VP3-Channel-Two-Way-Privacy/dp/B007B5ZR4G/].
- Alert.Church [https://www.alert.church/].
- Kris Moloney and Malene Little, "Security Team Fundamentals v4," Sheepdog Church Security, Courses [https://sheepdog-church-security.thinkific.com/courses/church-safety-and-security-volunteer-academy-training-bundle].