You’ve fought the monster at your church… now what?
In almost every law enforcement or security publication you’ll see a myriad of articles pertaining to how to be prepared (as best we can) to fight against active threats ranging from verbal judo to firearms and even how to upgrade security features at churches. From locks to cameras to check-in systems to ensuring that people who are there to pick up kids at the nursery are on an approved list.
It would seem as if this type of preparation would deter almost anyone from coming in to do harm to God’s people from harm… almost!
But, what happens when it doesn’t?
What happens if you’re forced to now do the unthinkable? The unimaginable?
What happens when it’s up to you to fight the monster that came to your church?
Envision this for a second:
You’re inside the lobby of your church performing security when you notice someone who keeps going in and out the sanctuary and looking around, especially at the Pastor’s office. Whether you call it gut instinct, spider senses, hairs on the back of neck, discernment” or whatever, something’s not right. You’re going to have to check that person out. As you approach him, you notice him reaching inside his jacket pocket for something. Before you can say anything he runs back into the sanctuary.
You then hear what sounds like firecrackers going off and as you go inside, people are trying to run by you. As you move towards the front of the church you feel someone tugging your leg. You quickly jerk away, knowing you can’t stop to help them. You have to deal with the active shooter (or as the term is now called: active threat), and have to deal with that first.
You now see the person who’s shooting, firing at any and every one. Men, women, young and old, regardless race or gender, they’re just trying to up the body count. It’s you that’ll have to stop it. This is what all the training was for. All the life experiences and preparation boils down to a matter of seconds. As you pull the trigger on your pistol you can only hope that you have enough ammo. (It’s a known fact that most who perform security at places of worship do not carry spare ammo, nor less lethal options such as an asp, oc or in some cases a taser) But fortunately it was enough to stop the threat. Now you say to yourself, “Thank God it’s over.”
But is it?
Now that the smoke has cleared, has the church set protocols for post-critical incidents?
Do they have a way to deal with emergency services? Do they even train with emergency services?
Do they have someone who can deal with the media besides the pastor? The pastor maybe trying to console those who were involved.
Do they have someone who can deal with the media if the pastor is one of the victims?
Is there someone who knows how to deal with the injured?
Do you have protocols for triage and staging areas?
Protocols to deal with the kids who are either trying to see their loved ones who may have been injured or killed?
Mental health services?
Also, be ready to accept that the fact that the people who you were chatting with that early Sunday morning will either be the casualties or fatalities and that survivors will not want to return. These things need to be discussed because if we focus so much for the monster to come inside and not the after effects…..
Kenneth Wise is a retired Police Chaplain and former law enforcement officer. He currently works as armed security for a school district in Oklahoma City.