The Spring brings a renewal of nature’s bounty, and major religious holidays such as Easter, Passover and Ramadan. This year is no exception with Passover (at the time of this writing) being celebrated from 19 – 27 April, Easter on April 21 and Ramadan from 5 May – 4 June.
Faith Based Places of Worship (FBPOW) will host a variety of religious and social events attracting large groups of faithful intent on worshiping in a peaceful and secure environment.
Unfortunately, history has shown that these events also can attract the unwanted attention of evildoers bent on wanton harm. Faith based places of worship are faced with the conundrum of maintaining a welcoming and supporting atmosphere to attract and nurture worshippers while having the duty to protect them from harm.
Recent events such as the bombing of Catholic churches in Sri Lanka, the shooting at the mosque in New Zealand and October 28, 2018 shooting at the synagogue in Pittsburgh show that no FBPOW is immune, and that hatred and violence know no religion, so that all FBPOW may face some sort of threat.
TAL Global has worked with a number of faith based places of worship in helping them address these challenges. We feel it is our duty of being a part of the community, especially with special skill and experience in the area of security, to share these skills as a way to give back to the community.
Each project is uniquely tailored to the particular institution, its constituents and environment. It would be impossible to provide a comprehensive manual or checklist in a short article such as this one, however, we will highlight some key points for our readers and faith based places of worship to consider:
Know Your Environment
- Organizations should start by understanding the organization’s goals and philosophy.
- Perform a systematic and impartial risk analysis, employ specialized outside help.
- Develop security programs, policies and measures in line with organizational goals.
- Foster and encourage situational awareness at all times.
- Be aware of the crime in the local and surrounding areas.
- Maintain active liaison with local law enforcement and encourage their input into security planning as well as routine patrolling of your location.
- Consider vulnerabilities in daylight and times of reduced visibility and darkness. Remember that darkness is the friend of the attacker.
- Optimize your organization’s CCTV surveillance/archiving capacity.
Take Prudent Precautions
- Have the ability to positively identify anyone seeking to enter the facility.
- Separate public areas from private ones.
- Employ shielding such as fabric on chain link fences to reduce the possibility of covert surveillance by would be attackers.
- Pay attention to lighting and locking containers such as dumpsters.
There is no question that there is a delicate balance between the desire to maintain an open and welcoming FBPOW and ensuring the security required by due diligence and a changing political/social environment.
As with any investment, improving the security posture of an organization requires funding. While FBPOW have limited budgets, there are a number of funding sources outside the institution that may offer a funding vehicle for needed security improvements. TAL Global has worked with a number of these potential funding sources and can help you navigate their processes.
TAL Global has performed Risk Assessments and Security Analyses based on our years of experience with security risks and assessments. In general, our assessments cover:
- Threats, Vulnerabilities and Risks
- Crime Trends and Statistics
- Background investigations
- Risk Analysis
- External Security
- Security Force/Guards
- Deployment/posting of security assets for maximum protection.
- Perimeter Protection/Reception- Access Control
- Internal Security
FBPOW are a critical part of our community. They often serve those most in need. Regrettably, they are often seen as ‘soft targets’ by those who mean harm to peaceful worshippers. TAL Global can help you achieve the balance your organization needs between security and openness.
COL (R) Lawrence D. Dietz, Esq.
TAL Global Corporation
General Counsel and Managing Director, Information Security
About the author: Colonel (R) Lawrence D. Dietz is a nationally recognized expert in the areas of cyber security, cyber warfare, information security and intellectual property. Mr. Dietz is a licensed attorney and also provides litigation and legal support to our clients in these matters.
As a retired Army Reserve Colonel specializing in intelligence and PSYOPS, Mr. Dietz has over 30 years of diversified military and commercial information and cyber security experience. This unique knowledge combined with the thought leadership of academia enables Mr. Dietz to bring varied approaches and solutions to clients’ challenges.
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