Today, our soldiers and police do not use exactly the same equipment, but they do have belts to hold their weapons, helmets for their heads, and footwear fit for the job. The breastplate is now the Kevlar vest or chest pad, the sword is replaced by firearms, stun guns, and sprays, and riot police do have shields.
As church safety-security ministries, certain equipment is needed, both for the team as a whole and for its members. Some items are more essential than others, so a few of those listed here may be optional. However, the optional equipment may be essential for a large congregation, especially one with a large campus. Sheepdog Church Security has a downloadable document on this subject, The 5 Essential Tools for your Church Security Team. These are all items the team member will have on his or her person when on duty. After outlining these, we will add a few more, for both the member and the team.
The five essential security tools in the document are Radios, CPR Pocket Masks, Flashlight, Pepper spray, and Security Banners.
Two-way radios are essential for keeping in touch. Communication is vital to coordination so the team can act as one in a critical situation. Cell phones may work, but there are inherent problems.
First, each cell phone has to be in contact with a cell tower to work, and someone with a different service provider than the others might be out of range, therefore out of the loop. Also, a storm (such as a tornado), lightning strike, vandalism/sabotage, power outage, or an accident could put the tower out of service. Here the advantage is that 2-way radios do not depend on the system. They will work when cell phones do not.
Cell phones are hard to use in a noisy environment. Two-way radios with ear pieces are designed to be heard and understood, even in the midst of chaos. Two-way radios are also sturdier than cell phones, still working after a drop that would silence the cell phone.
Cell phones, however, can be useful for calling 911 and for notifying or updating church members or leadership.
Two-way radios employ different kinds of encryption, ranging from MURS (the same as your garage door opener code) to extremely secure coding. Radios used by a church safety team will probably use Simple Inversion Encryption.
CPR Pocket Masks
These are available from the Red Cross. Your church may also be able to buy them from a medical supplies dealer. A CPR Pocket Mask allows you to safely administer CPR to anyone – safe for you and for them. Using the mask not only is a protection against infection, it is a more sure means of breathing into the person being treated.
This is obvious for anyone working in an unlit place or when the lights go out. But not just any flashlight will do. The ideal flashlight will be bright enough, have an adjustable beam, be sturdy (not go out when dropped or knocked), be waterproof, have a long battery life, and be convenient. The 5 Essential Tools document recommends tactical flashlights and has a link to the Guard Dog Vue 260 as an example.
Pepper spray is a non-lethal defense weapon. The key ingredient of pepper spray is oleoresin capsicum – the substance that makes hot peppers hot. On an attacker’s face, human or animal, its causes pain with burning in the eyes, waters the eyes enough so that they cannot see, makes them choke, cough and sneeze. Non-lethal, it is legal, but its use may have some restrictions, so check state and local regulations. There are formulations and spray patterns to choose from. Some even have dyes to mark attackers for identification.
The concept of the Security Banner is to mark safety and security team members so they can be immediately identified by law enforcement officers who respond to a situation.
More details on these can be found in the document by Sheepdog Church Security. These are some of the items to be considered when launching your Church Safety Ministry.
Other Vital Items
A search brings up other useful equipment for the Church Safety Ministry. A few of these are:
First Aid supplies
Central communication station
Emergency broadcast radios
First Aid Supplies
State agencies responsible for workplace safety (for example, Dept. of Labor and Industries, Industrial Commission, OSHA, etc.) usually require places of employment to have First Aid supplies on hand and ready for use. The church also needs at least a First Aid kit with enough in it to equip Safety Team for responding to medical emergencies. Along with this, it is important for team members and church staff to be trained in First Aid and CPR. This training should also include the Heimlich Maneuver for choking.
Central Communication Station
This is an option if there is a place for the Church Safety Director or Safety Team Leader in the church office or the Safety Ministry has an office of its own. This is a desktop or wall-mounted unit which is the home radio for the church’s safety radio network. It can be linked to a computer to log all calls and/or record communications on the network for future reference and evaluation. If linked to the computer, it can also be synchronized with security cameras. In case of a crime or an insurance claim, this could provide valuable evidence.
At the least, church staff would have a place to call the safety team if needed without having a separate radio for each of them. That way the janitor could go to the Com Center to call if the team member was some other place in the building at the time.
If the church can afford it, the Com Center could be capable of communication with local emergency services in an ongoing situation.
Emergency Broadcast Radios
At the least, an emergency broadcast radio should be a weather radio to monitor weather reports and receive alerts. Better would be a radio also receiving local alerts from law enforcement and emergency management agencies.
Once persons in classes and meeting areas have been notified of an emergency situation requiring evacuation or seeking shelter, or if people are scattered all around the building or campus, a general alarm which can be heard throughout the building and campus may be sounded. Use of this must be coupled with education about what the alarms mean and drills in how to respond.
When there is a broken water pipe or leaking gas line, it is important to turn off the water or gas as soon as possible to prevent water damage or explosion and fire. The Church Safety Team desk should have turn-off keys for water and gas with directions to the locations of turn-off valves and instructions on their use. This depends, of course, on the church having emergency turn-off valves for these services. The safety team should also know where and how to turn off the electric service if needed.
“Stand therefore, having fastened on the belt of truth” (Eph. 6:14). For a Roman soldier, the belt did not hold his kilt in place. It was a tool belt. This wide, thick strap of leather held the scabbards for his sword and dagger, as well as a club (if he had one) and his bag of roasted grain and waterskin (for eating and drinking while traveling). A sturdy belt is needed for holding a Security Team member’s two-way radio and pepper spray. If there is more equipment, a heavy-duty belt is called for.
The list can go on, but these are the most important items. Learn more about how to set up, equip and train a Church Safety Team at Sheepdog Church Security. There you will find the Church Security Guide, Church Security Articles, and Church Security Podcasts (The Roll Call). Also available is our newsletter, The Church Guardian, and downloadable Training Bundles.