Continuing the series on Church security, let’s talk about team members. Often, the first instinct in building a security team is to get the biggest baddest guys you can find. Yes, you want competent and capable people. You have to balance that however.
Team members should have the heart of a protector. This is more important than military or law enforcement experience. The mission of protecting a church is different than arresting bad guys or defending the country. They must be willing to put in hours of thankless service for the congregation. The congregation may never even know who is on the security team. I think it’s best that the general congregation doesn’t know any more than they need to. It’s important to have enough team members so that they can take turns so that a few people aren’t having to do it all.
Team members should be level headed. You don’t want someone who shoots first and asks questions later. A church is full of people that you don’t want shot. Any time shots are fired, you run the risk of hitting someone in the congregation. If you do have to shoot someone, it must be because it’s the only way to stop someone that you reasonably believe is trying to kill people. It is a little bit different than defending your home, where nobody has any business being there unless they are invited. The ability to remain calm and assess the situation is absolutely necessary. A necessary skill is the ability to de-escalate a bad situation. You will never lose a gunfight that you successfully avoid. Yes, if someone comes in and pulls a weapon and demonstrates the desire to use it, you must react immediately. But far more often, what will be called for is taking a deep breath, and talking someone out of becoming violent.
Team members should be team players. A chain of command must be established, and members must be able to take orders. This is not the place for big egos and petty power struggles.
Yes, firearms skills and martial arts training are good to have. Team members will have to learn these skills if they don’t have them. People can serve if they don’t have them. The most important skill is being observant. Anyone can spot a threat, and that is the most important thing. An attack on a church will always be a surprise attack. The faster you spot it, the faster you can stop it, or prevent it. The most important skill is the ability to remain vigilant and read people.
If it were me I’d also want everyone on the team to have good radios, a planned schedule and role/stations, and a common vocabulary for descriptions, incident type, location/directions, urgency level etc.