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Story by Candi Brown. Photos by Paul Bickford and Alex Hamp.

You see him, a man unknown to you, walking down the church halls, talking to himself and seeming agitated. He does not appear to know where he’s going, nor does he seem interested in a class or worship.

Security and Sense of Community at FBCWhat happens on a Sunday morning when someone’s behavior causes people to feel uncomfortable or unsafe? How do we respond? How do we determine if our security is at risk? Years ago churches would have a different answer but today we must be proactive with a plan in place to address potential security issues.

Security and Sense of Community at FBCSince its inception in 2015, FBC’s Security Team has focused on making the security of church members its priority. We have reviewed and revised security policies, provided training for church members and security team members, reviewed communication strategies, increased lines of communication and awareness, strengthened the partnership with the Richmond Police Department (RPD), and established a new 20-member security response team. We continue to provide ongoing security monitoring to ensure a high level of awareness, training, safety/security and communication.

Security and Sense of Community at FBCIn addition to an officer on Sunday mornings, ushers, greeters, the security team and a response team are watching for any security concerns and are ready to act if needed. On Wednesday nights and Sunday nights, we also have security personnel monitoring the parking lots and providing visibility. Security incidents are reported to staff, Capt. Gleason (coordinator of off-duty officers), deacons and then church members. Thus far in 2017 there have been no security incidents to report.

Training is a key component of the Security Team’s goals. Over the past two years, we have coordinated opportunities for our congregation to have safety training during a Wednesday evening program, as well as a security presentation and training for ushers, greeters, church members, and response team members. In addition, staff members have been invited to attend church security training offered by the RPD. FBC Facilities Director Bonnie Wilmoth and I have had the opportunity to participate in several trainings offered by the RPD. In 2017, Bonnie and I also completed church security training led by Homeland Security. We will continue to make training an ongoing priority and plan to have additional training for the FBC response team in the next few months.

Security and Sense of Community at FBCTo increase safety awareness and communication, our team has confirmed lines of communication regarding security issues and encouraged church members to report anything unusual to ushers, staff or the off-duty police officer. In 2015, our team asked Sunday school teachers to review safety evacuation plans as well as how to report a security incident. New evacuation plans were placed in all classrooms. Most recently, emergency guide cards were placed in all pews in the Sanctuary.

Security and Sense of Community at FBCFBC shares a strong partnership with the RPD. Off-duty officers provide security for our weekday preschool program, community missions, Grace Fellowship, and Sunday morning services. They make perimeter sweeps, monitor overall security, intervene as needed with security incidents, handle emergency communication for first responder incidents, and offer professional consultation as needed. RPD officers have also participated in the Security Team meetings, trained the congregation, volunteers and staff. To better engage our neighborhood and support the RPD, we have hosted three town hall meetings led by the RPD.

Security and Sense of Community at FBCThe Security Team’s goal is to provide a safe, secure environment in a manner that does not disrupt or intrude on the feeling of community and the sense of worship that FBC enjoys.

 

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