Category Archives: News & Updates

Security 101: Should Churches Fight Back?

We’re called to be peacemakers. What does that mean for security?

By Vaughn Baker, President
Strategos International

One of the most common objections we hear about church security is that, since God will protect His own, no defense is necessary. In fact, it might just be immoral.

I am not a theologian, but I am a committed Christian and lifelong protector. I respect people’s commitment to pacifism and non-violence. In fact, I’d be delighted if my team and I – and you – never experienced another violent encounter.

But if you read the headlines, that’s simply not the reality of our broken world.

We all resist aggression
Even most self-described pacifists.

  • Do you lock the door of your church, car or home?
  • If your family was attacked at a shopping mall, would you sit by and do nothing, content to pray that the attack would stop?
  • What if you saw a dog attacking a small child? Or an elderly person?

Most pacifism, however well intended, breaks down at some point. We step up and protect the innocent if we are able because it’s the right thing to do.

Counteracting violence and defending the innocent and helpless can take many forms. It may mean calling 911, distracting the aggressor, locking a door or helping someone out a back exit so they can escape. Some people believe they should be expertly trained with a weapon, while others do not. Everyone should certainly pray.

Churches should be welcoming, but not vulnerable
Our churches, by necessity, are wide open environments where everyone is welcomed in spite of their hangups. We don’t (yet) have metal detectors or frisk people at the doors.

Almost anyone can wander inside. And after the church service has started, there’s usually no one looking at the back door.

Since this is true, we at Strategos believe churches should be – at minimum – aware and alert.

After that decision, each church and pastor is going to take a different approach. Some will opt for armed security, while others will advocate a disarmed security presence.

Church security does not mean trigger happy, untrained or unhinged volunteers, as in this story. It means being humble, aware, prayerful, mindful and responsible for the people that God has put into our care.

Whatever you decide, it can’t compromise your core mission of mercy. And it doesn’t have to.

What is the next step for your and your ministry today? Let us know how we can serve you.

Vaughn Baker: Prevail! Over an Active Shooter

Multiple options are available to train and protect your workplace now.

Vaughn Baker, president of Strategos International, recently returned from the theater debut of “Prevail!” The film is a partnership between media company Sollah Interactive and Strategos. Using a dramatic story and professional actors, “Prevail!” takes viewers into the reality of a workplace shooting. Its purpose is to train employees at businesses, schools, churches and non-profits to be more than passive survivors in the event of an active-shooter or other intruder. Want to learn more? View all of the educational options.

 

Vaughn Baker: Prevail! Over an Active Shooter from Strategos International on Vimeo.

Domestic violence leaves home: Is your workplace ready?

Private conflicts take wings and impact workplaces, churches and more.

By Vaughn Baker
President, Strategos International

It may seem strange that a supervisor would need to be overly concerned about an employee’s home life. The unwritten rules of the workplace state that our domestic and professional lives are separate.

Recurring headlines, however, illustrates that there is no clear separation between work, school, home or church when it comes to domestic violence.

A simmering conflict that goes unresolved at home may surface in the office parking lot, the schoolyard or the church lobby. And when it happens, there is often collateral damage in addition to the tragedy itself.

What’s the solution? Although nothing can stop all acts of violence, employers can create an environment and policies that preempt acts of violence and protect co-workers from assault.

It starts with paying attention to the mental and emotional state of employees and training your colleagues to do the same. Facility security and surveillance also play a role.

Don’t wait until a violent incident breaks out to address this all-too-real phenomenon in our society.

Are Cameras Guaranteed Crime Stoppers?

Strategos Security Minute: Are Cameras Guaranteed Crime Stoppers? from Strategos International on Vimeo.

Understand their abilities and limitations before making an investment.

Vaughn Baker
President, Strategos International

Cameras are everywhere, but what are they accomplishing? And how much can we can count on them to keep us safe?

In spite of their continual presence, cameras are not a foolproof security measure. Businesses, churches and schools should carefully consider their purpose and their ability to effectively use video surveillance before making a massive investment.

Cameras can and do play a vital role in security, but it’s important to understand best practices and what cameras can and cannot do for you.

That way, you can make wise investments and have the right expectations about where cameras will fit into your overall security strategy.

Should Weapons Be the Focus of Security?

Despite the  hype, armed response is only one component of an effective security strategy.

By Vaughn Baker
President
Strategos International

Gun control, concealed weapons and open carry get lots of attention in the media.

However, when it comes to stopping intruders — whether it’s at the office, church or school — weapons usually play a minimal role. That’s not to say they are unimportant or unnecessary. But if your organization opts for armed security, it should be only one part of a comprehensive strategy.

Most intruders can and should be stopped long before a shot is fired. This is accomplished by controlling access, teaching employees awareness skills and taking a proactive instead of reactive approach.

Your security plan may or may not require armed response. But that tactic should not be the first one you consider.

Let’s start with locking the door and work backwards from there.

 

Starting With Your Perimeter: Security in the Church Parking Lot

Lately, parking areas have been the scenes of multiple crimes at houses of worship.

By Vaughn Baker
President
Strategos International

Recently there were three tragic headlines about churches, and all had to do with parking lots.

We can’t control everything that might happen in our parking areas 24 hours a day. But we can:

  • Have an active, alert, friendly parking ministry. And not just on Sunday morning.
  • Make sure our lots are well lit.
  • Partner with law enforcement to encourage late-night patrols around our premises.

Let’s do all we can to keep our churches out of the news and our members and neighbors out of harm’s way.

Pastors Packing Heat: Our Take

Armed security may have it’s place, but it’s only part of the solution.

By Vaughn Baker
President, Strategos International

An Ohio television station recently aired an intriguing report called “Pastors Packing Heat.” You can watch it below.

We’re not in a position to comment on the particular churches featured in this report: We simply don’t have enough information. We also realize that several hours of work goes into a segment that might last three minutes, so we don’t know what might have been left out.

With that said, the report as featured could leave the impression that a Wild West approach is what is required to face the threat of church violence. According to the story, one pastor interviewed said he “absolutely” recommends that other pastors carry guns.

Although last year set a record for the number of violent incidents (250+) at churches, this must be put into the context that there are nearly 400,000 churches in the United States.

Firearms can have a place in church security. But they are not an end-all, be-all solution. Churches with excellent security ministries may chose to have, or not to have, armed security.

The first and biggest step to increasing church security does not include guns. The number one priority is educating ushers, greeters, deacons, elders and staff on awareness. This includes learning what suspicious activity looks like and how to respond to behavior that is out of the ordinary. With this approach, numerous threats have been de-escalated without a single shot – or even a raised voice.

Armed personnel who lack comprehensive and strategic security training actually increase risk in churches.

Our counsel: Prepare. Study. Get training. Be vigilant. But don’t be risky or reckless. The stakes are too high.

 

Film teaches employees to “PREVAIL!” over an active shooter.

PRE-ORDER NOW
Available February 2017
training@strategosintl.com
888.569.5444

Sollah International and Strategos release video trailer of new workplace survival movie.

“Active shooter.” It’s the phrase no one wants to hear.

Yet, despite confronting it daily in the news, few workplaces are ready to respond, let alone prevail, when a gunman terrorizes a business.

“PREVAIL!™” is about to change that. A video trailer was released Jan. 6 with the video available for distribution and purchase in February.

Created through a partnership between Sollah Interactive and Strategos International, “PREVAIL!™” is a fast-paced, movie-style training that grips viewers and pulls them into a lifelike workplace shooting.

Sollah converted a vacant Midwest office building into a movie set, hired professional actors and spent two weeks documenting the drama.

Vaughn Baker, president of Strategos International, served as the subject-matter expert. Strategos is a master distributor of the training video, which will be available at www.intruderresponse.com in February.

“We were on site during the entire filming process, contributed to the script and gave extensive input from our training curriculum,” Baker said.

Sollah, a producer of business and HR videos, searched for an active-shooter expert and eventually connected with Baker.

“They said we were the company they wanted to partner with based on our background in law enforcement, private security and education,” he said.

“We jumped at the chance because there is a great need for workplace-related videos that teach people to do more than hide under their desks and wait to be killed. Statistics show that the odds of surviving with that mentality are very low. Instead, we teach people to prevail.”

The video weaves the drama into questions, instruction and group collaboration. It’s designed for businesses of all sizes, as well as schools and churches, to develop a prevailing plan.

In addition to providing the video, Strategos is offering additional training and on-site consultation for companies that request it.

CONTACT

Vaughn Baker, President
Strategos International
vaughn@strategosintl.com
816.795.3768
Intruderresponse.com

Strategos Statement on ISIL Threat: Be Alert, But Enjoy Christmas


The FBI warns that ISIL (the Islamic State) is urging its followers to attack churches and other public holiday gatherings in coming days.

As always, we urge you to be alert and aware in churches and other crowded spaces. Let’s be prayerful and mindful while still enjoying God’s gift of Christmas and a new year.

Read more

Here are Strategos President Vaughn Baker’s insights on a safe holiday season from a podcast released this month.