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EP and Church Security

One of my personal rules is that I don’t have debates on religion or politics, nor do I discuss them EVER with a client. Your views should not dictate your ability and how you operate. I thought I’d blog about this after speaking to an aspiring specialist the other day.

We realized that we had much in common and the main point we spoke about was his experience in protecting the Clergy. I went on to tell him that BPI’s very first client was a Pastor in the Washington, DC area that was running for our County Executive position while at the same time managing his church. His church is a highly populated church and his message duirng his campaign brought his notoriety even higher. Upon my first meeting with his “Armor Bearers” I immediately realized that there was going to have to be a shift in the standard coverage model. Both of them intimated to me that he (the Pastor) wanted protection in the church in conjunction with his campaign voyage.

What I did was visited the church the very next Sunday and watched how the services transpired and immediately saw that the sanctuary was set up in a way that there was easy access to the pulpit. This is due to the fact that the current church was in an old vacant super market and the conversion to a church as we know it was minimal. It was basically an open area with chairs and an elevated portion designated as the pulpit. I also, knew that a Church could be anywhere so that did not raise any issues. What did raise a flag was that throughout the services parishioners would walk up to the pulpit without any interdiction by the ushers. I needed to get everyone involved in this process without disrespecting their personal religious harmony.

After each service the Pastor would exit the pulpit through a door that led to a hallway to his office. At the conclusion of the service multitudes would line up at the door to see him. That had to be changed but not to the point that they couldn’t see him, but I needed the press/push of the church goers to be set back from the door and managed by a senior church staffer. Throughout this whole process I was told that there was church “security” of sorts but could not find or see anyone that I could have painted as security personnel. When I asked what was their duties, I found that they were relegated to parking lot duty to deter thefts from vehicles. I did my assessment and forwarded it up the chain of command and eventually was called in to a meeting with the Pastor.

In that meeting there was his main administrative assistant, Assistant Pastors as well as the Armor Bearers. This was my maiden voyage as a company owner but I was quite comfortable with my recommendations. As the meeting went on I got the distinct feeling that the extras in the meeting took the position that my company was going to distance their religious leader from them as well as the church body. I calmed their concerns and ran down how it was going to transpire from picking him up from his home, arriving at the church and the coverage on the campaign. Surprisingly it appeared that they were less concerned about how we protected him outside the church, the campaign or visiting another local church.

We started the detail with three (3) close-in and got the church security staff dialed in on a different perspective. A parking lot ministry was formed and those persons who were originally assigned as church security were brought inside as post standers. The ushers were augmented in the process and trained to be the gentler side of mitigation. When he arrived at church and carried out his duties of Pastor we took a very covert footprint but everyone quickly knew who we were and why we were there. The campaign had raised his profile. Our concern was that because the church was moderately populated there was no way of us (BPI) knowing who the members were from the first time visitors and anyone else that may have il-intent.

What I learned from this experience is that church security is better served by members of the church for a couple reasons:

  1. Cost
  2. Familiarity
  3. imposition of outsiders providing security for their Shepherd

At the end of each sermon he was exit the pulpit during a “call to discipleship” where he would invite non-believers to be “Saved”. We worked him in the standard Principal in a crowd formation. This is also where we came up with what we call the 6/9 position we use in crowds. On the campaign he got the standard EP coverage from door to door. The day he made his official announcement it was held at a local college auditorium and was heavily attended by media, citizens and other clergy. As they watched the six (6) man Diamond and the pre set post standers, we got countless winks of approval. Following the event the church office was inundated with calls wanting to know who the security team was and if they trained other church security.

Church protection is a very popular model nowadays and there is a close resemblamce to what we do with CEO’s. There is a different CEO in this position and the respect and concierge level of service is higher than you’ll see in corporate America. If you are asked to provide EP for a church, you need to understand that there social factors and norms that you have to work around if you want to succeed as a private company in the church setting.

1 comment

  1. Reggie Pickett

    Excellent article

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