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Church Security / House of Worship SecurityTerminology

It's important to know some key words when discussing church security / house of worship security.

  • Church Security deals with Risk. Risk is the probability of a loss event occurring that could lead to damage, injury, or something hazardous and the impact it has on your House of Worship.
  • Church Security deals with Threat. Threat is any event that could create loss or harm.
  • Church Security deals with Vulnerability. Vulnerability is anything unprotected, defenseless, or exposed to a loss event.
  • Using the three words in an example:
    • A group opens a House of Worship in a high crime area (risk). The parking lot is not illuminated and they have night services all the time. As a result they face the possibility of a car break-in (threat) because there are several cars parked in the parking lot, unattended and without surveillance and/or proper illumination (vulnerability).
When you use the House of Worship Vulnerability Assessment program you will undergo the assessment process of identifying the risks at hand by understanding the threats, vulnerabilities associated with your House of Worship. The information you provide when answering the specified questions will then create a posture snapshot and Probability/Impact Chart to help you better conceptualize the relationship of Risk, Threat and Vulnerability.
  
From there you are able to plan countermeasures and corrective action to manage and or reduce the risk (mitigate) loss events. 

Different Type of Church Security and House of Worship Security - Risk Mitigation:
  • You can avoid the Church Security risk, completely, by not getting involved in the activities that are related to the threat creating the risk. For example, a House of Worship may choose to postpone an outreach activity due to the threat of reported high crime in the area.  
  • You can transfer the church security risk to someone else (like a contractor) or an insurance company. For example, a church or House of Worship can hire off duty police officers or a security company to provide security during an outreach in a high crime area. You pay someone else to assume the risk for you. 
  • You can reduce the church security risk. If you can’t avoid the church security risk completely, then reduce the probability of its occurrence. This is usually done by implementation of countermeasures (physical, technical and administrative security). For example, a church security plan or House of Worship security plan could include volunteers with a law enforcement / security background - personnel with professional experience to form a surveillance or advance church security team that conducts surveillance in the outreach area prior to the visit. This security team then channels the outreach personnel so they are not in harm's way.
  • You can retain the church security risk. By keeping it. By retaining the church security risk, the church security plan would include a process for taking that particular risk on , internally. Self-insurance.  This is generally applicable to low impact low probability events. 
The House of Worship Vulnerability  Assessment Program includes features for you to identify assets, threats, vulnerabilities and the risks along with the probability and the impact or criticality should a loss event occur. 

To better understand the definition of risk also consider this illustration:

Elements of Risk

The above image shows us that in order for a risk to be present, the three elements (Assets, Threat and Vulnerability) must exist. If one or more of the elements are not in the mix, risk, generally is not prevalent.

In the HoW Vulnerability Assessment there is also a Risk Module:

  • After we have completed the assessment process, we want to specify the risks by looking at the threat and vulnerabilities associated with the assets.
  • The assessment program will help to do this whenever one of the questions is answered.
  • When assessing the threats and vulnerabilities, focus on the incidents that have occurred or are likely to occur based on other churches of similarity along with current and historical security incidents.
  • It is impossible to identify every possible threat, but after you have conducted the vulnerability assessment, you will be much more mindful of the potential threats facing your HoW.
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