Church Security Book Review: Defending the Flock

The US is in a heightened threat environment due to violent conflicts around the world, according to the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). Lone offenders, motivated by a range of savage ideologies, pose the most likely threat. DHS urges the American public to stay vigilant.

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Middle East expert Walid Phares says the charter of the terrorist organization Hamas calls for not only the killing of Jews and the elimination of Israel, but also for the killing of Christians worldwide. He says, “This is a jihadist movement, and it is manifesting itself in America and Canada, and in Western Europe. We have never been at this level of danger for our democratic world.”

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Acts of targeted violence against houses of worship are a real—and potentially growing—problem in the United States, says the DHS. The best way to mitigate a potential attack is to take a holistic approach to security.

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A necessary and excellent resource for establishing a well-rounded, comprehensive church security program is the book, Defending the Flock: A Security Guide for Church Safety Directors by veteran police officer, retired Army captain, and founder of Sheepdog Church Security (SDCS) certification curriculum, Kris Moloney.

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It begins with crime statistics impacting churches and the reasons why establishing a church security team is necessary. It offers a safety ministry organizational chart (safety committee, safety director, and safety team) and describes the characteristics of a team member: physically fit, even-tempered, team player, good communication skills, commands respect, punctual, persuasive, observant, versatile, flexible, knows how to give and take orders, respectful, honest, high personal standards, looks and acts professional.

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The 298-page book consists of 8 extensive chapters:

  1. Security Team Fundamentals
  2. Active Shooter Response
  3. De-escalating Disruptive Persons
  4. Child Protection
  5. Basic Use of Force Laws
  6. Arson and Fire Safety
  7. Storms and Disasters
  8. Mass Trauma

Each chapter is loaded with practical teaching. For example, the following are a few of the headings to instructions in how to lower the threat level of a disruptive person:

  • Reduce noise and distraction
  • Avoid trapping the subject
  • Let one Safety Team member do the talking
  • Avoid making it feel like an interrogation
  • Move to a private space, if possible
  • Be aware of body language
  • Adopt a confident yet “ready” stance
  • Move slowly and deliberately

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And in the case of a child reported missing in the church:

  • Secure and monitor exits
  • Conduct a cursory search
  • Notify the parents
  • Call 911
  • Conduct a thorough search

Regarding the use of force, the book emphasizes to “avoid the use of force whenever possible” and “never consider property more important than human life….Force should only be used to protect yourself and the members of the church from physical harm.” It explains situations when force is necessary and describes the following Use of Force Continuum:

  • Level 1—Safety Team Presence (visual deterrence)
  • Level 2—Verbal Commands
  • Level 3—Unarmed Techniques
  • Level 4—Less Lethal Weapons
  • Level 5—Lethal Force

In the current social climate of anarchy, mob chaos, increased criminal behavior, and vicious terrorist ideology, Defending the Flock is an outstanding and essential resource. Buy it today to begin laying a solid foundation on which to build your church security team!

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