The tragic, and senseless loss of life at the hands of an active shooter in South Carolina have brought about tremendous grief, and very strong feelings that have unfortunately become all too familiar for Americans. The terrorist who killed nine people at the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church during a weekly Bible study meeting can be classified as an Active Shooter. An Active Shooter is an individual actively engaged in the killing, or attempting to kill people in a confined and populated area. Active shooter situations are unpredictable and evolve quickly. Typically, the immediate deployment of law enforcement is required to stop the shooting and mitigate harm to victims. In recent years, private security for houses of worship has been on the rise, and with it comes preparation for an active shooter scenario. This is the unfortunate reality of living in America, and as security professionals, you must be constantly prepared for unexpected scenarios no matter how unthinkable they are, or how tranquil your environment may be. While this may make your stomach twist a little, it is your duty as a Security Professional to be prepared at all times. In order to further your career and make you a more attractive candidate, seek out certified training centers that prepare you for working in security at a school or a house of worship. This is a growing field in the United States, and can further your career.
While you actively seek out proper training for this type of security, or need a refresher, here are several basic guidelines a Security Professional should keep in mind while on patrol at a House of Worship:
Keep the area secure
This may very well be against the nature of a house of worship, where all are welcome, but the benefit of a safe and secure environment far outweighs any minor inconvenience that may take up a person's time, or seem too cautious. Nobody wants to stop a little old lady from going to church, but it is your duty as a security professional to keep your facility safe for everyone that enters. Here are some ground rules:
- Keep facility secure by locking and or controlling all entrance points.
- Do not grant access to strangers or suspicious visitors.
- Maintain a log of visitors, and the time they entered, and exited the premises.
- Keep location's crowded events off of all online and print publications if possible.
As you know, Active Shooter scenarios are difficult to predict and may occur out of nowhere. Here are the most common indicators:
- Visual confirmation of firearms.
- Hearing gunshots.
- Flashes of light.
Train your security team, house of worship staff, and regular visitors
This is the scenario we all hope never comes, but it is best to prepare for it, and be ready to respond in the best way possible if no properly trained, armed guards are available:
- Remain calm, and if at all possible, GET OUT, and get away from gunshots!
- Be aware of your environment, escape routes, and possible safe rooms.
- If you are in an office, lock the door, turn off the lights, and hide.
- If trapped by a shooter entering your hiding place, you may decide to TAKE OUT the shooter. While this is a choice only you can make, it may be the only way to survive. Use furniture or whatever means available to protect yourself and others in your area.
- Utilize cover whenever possible.
- Call 911 when it is safe to do so.
- Wait for law enforcement personnel to arrive. When they are on the scene, obey all commands and keep your hands up and visible at all times.