Defining & Designing a Secure Space

by | Facilities, Security

By Matt Murphy, Marseal Group

What do people look for when attending a church? A place you can freely worship God and build a community? A place where you can take your kids to build up a firm foundation? A place to be vulnerable? There are many reasons people go to church, and with that comes a precondition that a church is a safe and inviting place you entrust. For a church to have a safe and welcoming space, they need to have a secure space. Security is a necessary part of the building design.

Here are 4 ways to implement the right security design/system for a church:

1. Define What is Important to You

Identifying and prioritizing the things you value most in a church is important early on in your security design. It will help you in defining your spaces and how they are used. It is important to look at security as if it is its own ministry because it is a part of every church to have a security plan in place. Planning a security design can aide in deterring crime, reducing liability and keeping your environment safe and welcoming. It means creating a safe environment where people can be vulnerable and entrust the church is taking an active approach to keeping the congregation safe. Knowing your kids are protected and safe gives you the freedom to relax and creates a space where you can feel God’s presence.  

So, what is important to a church? Congregation, pastoral staff, children, access control, security cameras, security committee, security plan and procedures–all of these are important things to consider.

2. Conduct Risk Assessment and Identify Vulnerabilities

A risk assessment will show you where you currently stand with security and where there may be some areas of improvement. It is crucial to identify vulnerabilities and create a construction security plan (CSP) to remedy those vulnerabilities. Whether it is a new build, remodel, or installation of new cameras, it is important to have a CSP. A construction security plan is a plan highlighting security preventative measures that will be applied to each phase of any construction/remodel project.

We all have different backgrounds and experiences that polish our perspectives on life, which is why it’s important to be part of a team. Our perspective on security needs to change and become a forethought in our ministry. We should come together as a community and problem solve weaknesses we may have.

3. Design and Determine Proper Placement of a Security System

When it comes to the security of a building, you want to deter crime. That is your first line of defense to keep crime away by making it inconvenient for something to happen. For example, greeters are a great first line of defense. Greeters see people weekly and are usually able to notice if someone/something is standing out. They are able to detect if someone/something does not belong and are able to communicate that with the security team. 

Another layer of security is security cameras inside and outside of your building. Many times a camera is placed in a building without much thought behind it. Rarely is a security system designed with a tactical perspective in mind, which can aide in blind spots or corners the cameras do no show. When constructing a building or remodeling, designing a system with the best technology available with a tactical perspective will assist you in defending your building and creating a welcoming environment.

Another layer to defend your building is to simply add lighting around the perimeter of the building and in the parking lots.

4. Cameras and Network

The cameras and network you choose is an investment that will save you money down the road. You want to choose quality over quantity here for the cameras and network. You do not want to choose a system now and in two years need to upgrade the system because it is not satisfying your needs. You can easily fulfill your requirements of security cameras with cheap cameras, but over time they will show they may be unreliable. 

It is also very important to weigh the pros and cons of wired vs wireless, VMS (video management system), storage of videos, specifications, and capabilities of different camera types and meet those with your needs. There are many great camera models on the market. Here a couple of cameras to consider: Axis and HIKVision.

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