Physical Security for early morning seminary

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Shogun-p40
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Physical Security for early morning seminary

Postby Shogun-p40 » Thu Aug 20, 2009 2:35 pm

I saw an older thread about physical security, but thought that it might be appropriate to create a new thread.

Recently, our ward/stake made assignments for one priesthood holder to stay at early morning seminary as part of the security detail. These were the instructions:

"The basic requirement to be at the building at 5:30 a.m., open the building, make sure the building is safe inside, turn on the lights, sit by the one entrance that is open to show a priesthood presence, wait for the students and teachers to leave (for a reasonable time after seminary ends) and, if there is snow, shovel a way into the one entrance to the building."
Is it sufficient to have a single priesthood holder? The other teachers are women but leave immediately after they finish teaching. This leaves open the possibility that a single adult male may be left alone with a single youth (female or male, either way that's not a good situation in my opinion).

Should there be any sort of additional training? How should someone react to any number of potential scenarios? Just some that come to the top of my head: Intruder, Armed Intruder, Hostage Situation, Break-in, Active Shooter, fire, medical emergency, etc. A wrong decision or action in any of these scenarios could dramatically impact the outcome. Hence why I think that training would be important.

Without training on how to react or handle certain situations, it wouldn't be too hard to see someone assigned to handle security trying to physically shove or push an unauthorized individual from the church. From that point, it could quickly escalate into a very bad situation.

Guard: "Sir, I need to ask you to leave the premises"
Intruder: "I don't think I need to"
Guard: "This is private property and you need to leave immediately"
Intruder: "Why do I need to leave? I have a right to be here."
Guard: "Please leave or I will have to call the police"
Intruder: "Your sign out front says visitors welcome, I'm visiting." (moves further into the foyer)
Guard: Physically pushes intruder towards doors
Intruder: "Get your hands off me"

You imagine the rest...


Do Bishops or Stakes have incident response plans? If so, is there applicability in these plans that could be leveraged to better inform and train the instructors and security providers?

Is there any liability for negligence? The individual is there for security, but has no training and very limited instructions on what to do. If someone were to be hurt or killed, is the security guard liable since he was the security guard and it happened on his watch? Will the church help him in any way (legal support, accept culpability, etc)?

What have your units done?
Is there really a risk?
Should there be training?
If assigned to security, what can we do?
Probably more important, What can't we do?
Does a single unarmed middle-aged man who is probably half-awake really dissuade criminals and protect vulnerabilities? Are we just kidding ourselves?

lajackson
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Postby lajackson » Thu Aug 20, 2009 2:59 pm

Shogun wrote:Recently, our ward/stake made assignments for one priesthood holder to stay at early morning seminary as part of the security detail.


You raise some excellent questions. While circumstances in various areas may differ, I would start from the premise of a few simple principles.

Priesthood presence is not guard duty.

A responsible priesthood holder would never push someone, or even touch them, except to shake hands.

In a matter of danger, the priesthood holder would call 911 and ask for assistance.

A priesthood holder can provide much influence through demeanor, language, and presence. The Spirit will also be a guide as to when the priesthood leader needs to immediately seek more assistance.

And our Seminary youth are all gone within three minutes on a normal weekday, followed by the two teachers and the priesthood leader.

Shogun-p40
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Postby Shogun-p40 » Thu Aug 20, 2009 3:28 pm

Please forgive me, but I'm going to play the other side of this. I just think there are way too many variables for anyone to consider and to lightly think that a set of simple instructions are going to suffice in every situation.

lajackson wrote:In a matter of danger, the priesthood holder would call 911 and ask for assistance.

What happens if you cannot call 911, e.g. there is a gun to your head? Or if you were physically unable to call 911?

lajackson wrote:A priesthood holder can provide much influence through demeanor, language, and presence. The Spirit will also be a guide as to when the priesthood leader needs to immediately seek more assistance.

Will it be consistently applied across every individual in every situation? Can it be safely assumed that a few basics will completely alleviate every situation through the Spirit?

lajackson wrote:And our Seminary youth are all gone within three minutes on a normal weekday, followed by the two teachers and the priesthood leader.

Without exception, every single day? There is never an instance where a car doesn't break down, a ride is late, someone forgot, etc.?

lajackson wrote:Priesthood presence is not guard duty.

This assignment is being called seminary security. I take it to mean more than simple priesthood presence. Maybe it was a poor choice of wording.

dmaynes
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Postby dmaynes » Thu Aug 20, 2009 4:28 pm

Shogun wrote:Recently, our ward/stake made assignments for one priesthood holder to stay at early morning seminary as part of the security detail.


We should probably start with the presumption that the stake presidency has gathered information and determined that a single priesthood holder, who is not a security guard or trained to deal with determined criminals, is sufficient security.

Any situation, no matter how strongly defended, can be breached if the perpetrators have enough resources and determination. 9/11 taught us that. So, from your description, it seems reasonable that the stake presidency is not expecting gangs, criminals, and hoodlums to force their way into the chapel. Yes, it has happened and it will likely happen again. But, that does not appear to be the main concern.

It is difficult to protect against random violence. We have seen that happen many times, where even trained security people are overwhelmed or unable to respond adequately.

On the other hand, I believe it very important to provide rudimentary instructions:
1- Observe and be aware of those who are approaching the premises. Are people, from the outside, watching and monitoring? If so, perhaps it makes sense to do something more (like request random security patrols to drive through the area).
2- Is there evidence that criminals are active in the area? Is the parking lot being used as a meeting point for strangers? If so, perhaps it makes sense to contact the local law enforcement.
3- Is there evidence that individuals are gaining unauthorized entry into the building?

Being vigilant and aware can be very important deterrent. The priesthood brethren should also have ready means to communicate (i.e., cell phones) with a calling order should difficult situations develop.

I don't think the stake presidency is expecting the priesthood to take on armed intruders. So, training should provide a course action for expected security problems and anything else should be covered through a general backup and calling procedure.

In the extreme case, it would be good for the priesthood brother to be able to signal to the teachers (a bell or some other signaling device) that a dangerous situation has developed and they could then make phone calls and follow an appropriate response plan.

rmrichesjr
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Postby rmrichesjr » Thu Aug 20, 2009 4:57 pm

dmaynes wrote:...
In the extreme case, it would be good for the priesthood brother to be able to signal to the teachers (a bell or some other signaling device) that a dangerous situation has developed and they could then make phone calls and follow an appropriate response plan.


A hand-held FRS unit in each classroom and one in the shirt pocket of the "security" brother should work for notification of emergency situations. From there, the teachers could phone for assistance. My personal FRS units came with rechargeable batteries and charging stations.

While there is some RF shielding in some buildings, I have seen FRS used successfully as intercom during a theatrical production in a large stake center with 1980-era concrete block and re-bar construction.

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Postby jbh001 » Thu Aug 20, 2009 7:15 pm

Shogun wrote:I saw an older thread about physical security, but thought that it might be appropriate to create a new thread.

Recently, our ward/stake made assignments for one priesthood holder to stay at early morning seminary as part of the security detail. These were the instructions:

Is it sufficient to have a single priesthood holder? The other teachers are women but leave immediately after they finish teaching. This leaves open the possibility that a single adult male may be left alone with a single youth (female or male, either way that's not a good situation in my opinion).

Should there be any sort of additional training? How should someone react to any number of potential scenarios? Just some that come to the top of my head: Intruder, Armed Intruder, Hostage Situation, Break-in, Active Shooter, fire, medical emergency, etc. A wrong decision or action in any of these scenarios could dramatically impact the outcome. Hence why I think that training would be important.

Without training on how to react or handle certain situations, it wouldn't be too hard to see someone assigned to handle security trying to physically shove or push an unauthorized individual from the church. From that point, it could quickly escalate into a very bad situation.

Guard: "Sir, I need to ask you to leave the premises"
Intruder: "I don't think I need to"
Guard: "This is private property and you need to leave immediately"
Intruder: "Why do I need to leave? I have a right to be here."
Guard: "Please leave or I will have to call the police"
Intruder: "Your sign out front says visitors welcome, I'm visiting." (moves further into the foyer)
Guard: Physically pushes intruder towards doors
Intruder: "Get your hands off me"

You imagine the rest...


Do Bishops or Stakes have incident response plans? If so, is there applicability in these plans that could be leveraged to better inform and train the instructors and security providers?

Is there any liability for negligence? The individual is there for security, but has no training and very limited instructions on what to do. If someone were to be hurt or killed, is the security guard liable since he was the security guard and it happened on his watch? Will the church help him in any way (legal support, accept culpability, etc)?

What have your units done?
Is there really a risk?
Should there be training?
If assigned to security, what can we do?
Probably more important, What can't we do?
Does a single unarmed middle-aged man who is probably half-awake really dissuade criminals and protect vulnerabilities? Are we just kidding ourselves?

Shogun wrote:Please forgive me, but I'm going to play the other side of this. I just think there are way too many variables for anyone to consider and to lightly think that a set of simple instructions are going to suffice in every situation.

What happens if you cannot call 911, e.g. there is a gun to your head? Or if you were physically unable to call 911?

Will it be consistently applied across every individual in every situation? Can it be safely assumed that a few basics will completely alleviate every situation through the Spirit?

Without exception, every single day? There is never an instance where a car doesn't break down, a ride is late, someone forgot, etc.?

This assignment is being called seminary security. I take it to mean more than simple priesthood presence. Maybe it was a poor choice of wording.


These are all questions that are best answered by your local priesthood leadership, as they are the ones with the keys to discern the level of risk present and appropriate response and training required for your area. If you local priesthood leadership is uncertain about what to do, they can always consult with the stake president, who can consult with the appropriate area seventy and/or the Risk Management Division of the Church.

The instructions provided by your local priesthood leadership, which you posted, are sufficient to comply with the general guidelines from the church (for example, as listed in the General Handbook of Instructions, Book 1 (2006), page 164).

What might be appropriate or necessary for your unit or stake does not necessarily apply or generalize to the rest of the units of the Church world-wide.

lajackson
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Postby lajackson » Thu Aug 20, 2009 8:27 pm

Shogun wrote:Please forgive me, but I'm going to play the other side of this.


I am dealing with general principles. You are dealing with specifics. As others have said, your priesthood leaders will determine what level of protection is needed. And they hold the keys to decide how to deal with most of the specifics of your particular situation.

For example, if the assignment is for a priesthood holder, a priesthood holder (with some common sense) will do nicely. If you live in a high crime area and true security is needed, your priesthood leaders may want to coordinate with the Church to arrange for trained security. An in between solution may be for two priesthood holders. There are dozens of variations.

You asked if "there is never an instance where a car doesn't break down, a ride is late, someone forgot, etc." Of course this happens occasionally. And the answer is that when the problem is resolved, everyone leaves, as I said, "followed by the two teachers and the priesthood leader." That is the principle. The solution may need to be adjusted as the circumstances dictate. Wise adults will see that everything is done appropriately.

You ask, "Can it be safely assumed that a few basics will completely alleviate every situation through the Spirit?" If everyone is following the counsel of priesthood leaders and paying attention to the Spirit, then the answer is yes.

I only get into trouble when I fail to heed priesthood counsel, ignore the promptings of the Spirit, or fail to receive them because I am not doing what I should be doing.

Sorry to get personal. I am preparing to discuss this very topic at our stake general priesthood meeting Sunday.

Shogun-p40
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Postby Shogun-p40 » Fri Aug 21, 2009 12:52 pm

lajackson wrote:Sorry to get personal. I am preparing to discuss this very topic at our stake general priesthood meeting Sunday.


I don't feel that you were personal at all! Thank you so much (and to everyone) for your great responses and assistance.

I was wondering if you might consider sharing some of your thoughts or talk that you are preparing. I would surmise that your advise and wisdom could assist far more people than just those in your stake.

Good luck on your upcoming assignment!

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Postby aweitzel-p40 » Mon Aug 24, 2009 9:40 am

I am somewhat of an expert on Church Security - I speak frequently across the country on the subject as part of a national association to churches of all denominations and sizes.

I will post a more detailed response to some of the issues here, including some of the legal issues that come up, but for now, the duties and purposes of greeters and ushers (which, arguably, includes the priesthood holder sitting at the door) can be broken up into two main categories:

1.To be a warm, welcoming face for the organization; and
2.To provide a modicum of security, usually by serving as a deterrence for actions that can be deterred by such a presence.

You generally do not want to instruct greeters to confront aggressors. Unless they have significant professional training in the area, it will likely expose the church to legal liability, and worse, could embolden these men to take actions (often when action is not needed) that will lead to greater harm. I am not a pacifist, but I think that most of us would agree that if someone entered the church with the intent of stealing or causing physical damage to the building (as opposed to the active shooter scenario), it is better to keep the people in the building safe and allow that damage to occur, than to risk personal injury to our youth or the priesthood holder at the door. Property can be replaced; lives generally cannot.

Teach your greeters (door guards) that their primary duties are:

1.Be safe and alert the class of any emergecy;
2.Call 9-1-1 immediately; and
3.Be a good witness.

Of course, if somebody enters the building with a weapon in an active shooter or similar scenario, it is likely that the priesthood holder at the door will respond as best as he can, regardless of the instructions you have given him. Ultimately, he needs to do the same three things – be safe, while alerting the class, call 9-1-1, and be a good witness, but in doing so, he may have to facilitate the evacuation of the building to keep the youth safe.

Evidence has shown that fleeing is typically the safest course of action for dealing with/surviving an active shooter event. The truth is that unless you can match or exceed the force brought into your building, you will succumb to the aggressor’s force until you can evade or someone with sufficient force (e.g. the police) arrives. Therefore, teach your greeter to alert the class to flee, and teach the youth and teachers how to exit the building safely and quickly. That is likely the safest course of action.

I could go on about reacting to active shooter scenarios, but that will wait for another post.

I’m sorry this is so short and rambling, but I will try to address this post, and others that come up, in more detail. My goal is to improve the security within our buildings. I recently spoke at a Bishopric Training for my stake and scared everyone out of their wits with the stories and situations I’ve dealt with.

If anyone has specific questions, I'd be happy to address them in depth as my time permits.

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Postby lajackson » Mon Aug 24, 2009 8:39 pm

Shogun wrote:I was wondering if you might consider sharing some of your thoughts or talk that you are preparing. I would surmise that your advise and wisdom could assist far more people than just those in your stake.


In rare (but not unheard of) form, I spoke at stake general priesthood meeting Sunday evening without any notes for 20 minutes on the subject of priesthood power, priesthood blessings, and the importance of being in tune with the Spirit when performing priesthood ordinances, duties, and responsibilities. That would be about as close to the topic of this thread as it got.

I spoke of how to receive revelation when pronouncing blessings and how to understand the promptings of the Spirit in knowing what may be said or should not be said when blessing others using priesthood authority.

Although my comments would be of benefit to anyone who holds the priesthood, I have no ecclesiastical responsibility for anyone residing outside the boundaries of the stake in which I live and serve.

What I said was basic to the topic of priesthood service and giving blessings and would come as no surprise to anyone, other than some personal experiences I shared that were appropriate to the discussion. These included some recent and significant events in my personal life that prompted me to speak without the prepared notes I would normally use. I referred to several scriptures in the Doctrine and Covenants (13:1, 20:70, 122:9).

That is about the best I will be able to do in answering the request and staying anywhere close to being on topic. But, it does explain my thoughts on the importance of paying attention to the Spirit while performing priesthood responsibilities. Priesthood leaders also need to plan and prepare carefully as they establish roles and boundaries and give priesthood assignments.

Thanks for asking.


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