While we’ve covered concealed carry in churches in past blogs, current events call for an update.
Our goal is to stay on top of the latest education and resources to bring you the same. Our partnership with carriers like GuideOne Insurance gives us access to many tools. Likewise, GuideOne Insurance provides these directly to clients, too.
Keep in mind that concealed carry laws differ state to state. In Florida, it is legal to carry a concealed weapon into a house of worship with a permit. However, it is illegal to carry a gun in a school, even if a church meets in that school. This law may be changing with a proposed bill in our state. Many churches are connected with a school or a preschool, and therefore these proposed changes could affect church safety guidelines. If you have a safety team in your church, it may be time to revisit the structure of it. If there is not yet one in place, take note of the following from GuideOne Insurance.
Three Ways to Form a Church Security Team
- Hire off-duty police officers
- Contract professional security guards
- Assemble a security force of licensed congregants
Sign Up with the Professionals
Due to several factors, it can be wisest to seek the assistance of professionals, whether those professionals are a security company you’ve contracted for service or a team of off-duty law enforcement officers. There are many security companies that specialize in houses of worship.
These professionals have more extensive training and will be better able to respond in a crisis. The church’s liability will be reduced as well through formal contracts with the company.
All security personnel must be:
- Cleared through the Church Board
All contract agreements should be in writing with formal details granting your church protection against questionable actions of their officers as well as proof of coverage for your church as an “additional insured” on their insurance policies. In addition, it’s crucial to know their policy on use of force and make sure that it is consistent with your church’s.
Volunteers Against Violence
Internal security teams made up of volunteers from the congregation might seem like a good option, but they do carry the greatest risk of liability. Should the unthinkable happen and a violent situation arises, the volunteers act as agents of the church, which means that the church is completely responsible for any actions they take.
In the case that your church board has decided to form an internal security team due to budget needs or simply because such an assembly more fully follows your vision as a church, the church will be completely responsible for the training and supervision of that security team. You will need to conduct thorough background checks and set up clear guidelines for responding to various situations as well as use of force. These team members must also be trained beyond the basics of concealed carry permit training because those simple training courses do not prepare them for dealing with situations involving potentially violent individuals. Training on an annual basis is strongly recommended, and we at Beacon advise our clients to use the resources at GuideOne to keep them apprised of ways to better strengthen their teams.
Partnering with law enforcement will be extremely beneficial to internal security teams. They have the training and expertise to guide your team members and can be consulted, often free of charge. You may also want to explore the option of working directly with a church security organization to get your team properly trained. It will also be important to familiarize your church with state licensing requirements and ensure that you are in full compliance with them.
Your church can develop partnerships with local law enforcement by inviting them to the facility and asking them to assess your security. Your church can also form a relationship with them by supporting their organization and inviting them to speak to your staff and volunteers about preventing crime.
Be Legally Armed and Fully Covered
Every state has its own laws regarding firearms in churches, so you’ll need to know what the legalities are for your state. Guidelines for concealed carry should be followed, and those guidelines must be communicated with members of your church so that everyone is aware that weapons may be on site. At Beacon, we discuss policies offering concealed coverage with our clients so that they are properly protected for the security measures they wish to take.
Call Beacon Insurance Agency of Pace today for a review of your church security plan and policies.