The recent shooting at Charleston’s Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal (AME) Church shook the country, prompting many to ask then whether anywhere is truly safe. The incident has drawn attention to the reality that many feel we are currently heading: open environments are a thing of the past.

The concept of openness in religious organizations is as old as religion itself and therefore, it is no surprise that proposals to dramatically increase church security face pushback from worshippers and clergy who feel strongly that this tradition should be upheld.

downloadWhen we look at the structure of security in our places of worship, certain questions arise: Should there be emergency protocol, like in schools? How can aging infrastructures support high-tech solutions? Will the environment no longer feel inviting? Is it affordable? One thing is for certain: Security programs must be implemented. Many churches are also affiliated with primary or preparatory schools ranging from preschool-aged to K-12 students, making stringent security all the more vital.

Church Security in Practice

Calvary Chapel Fort Lauderdale is an organization that has taken the initiative to enhance security through the use of new technology innovations and has implemented an IT-centric access control system to protect its campus. With more than 1,000 staff, volunteers, students, visitors and worshippers that pass through each week, including a Christian Academy that serves around 2,000 students, Calvary Chapel uses Viscount Freedom Access Control to control access to its facilities and gain a high level of awareness of its security risks.

The Freedom system is the next generation of physical access control solutions — it eliminates the need for control panels used in traditional access control deployments, allowing customers to see an immediate reduction in hardware costs. Its IT-based architecture also ensures network and data security, and its Web-based user interface offers ease-of-use for a variety of skill levels, which is important to the staff at Calvary Chapel.

Additionally, as with many non-profit organizations, cost is a factor. Utilizing Freedom allows the church to reduce infrastructure costs that come with traditional access control solutions and see an immediate return on the organization’s investment because it uses existing IT networks – think the Internet capability that’s already present in so many organizations.

Calvary Chapel is a leader in the deployment of technology that creates a safe and secure environment for attendees, and other organizations look to it as a model for success. To date, church security in the United States has lagged behind the standards of other commercial, private or even government enterprises, and now is the time to take a closer look at developing programs to ensure the safety of visitors, congregants and clergy in these houses of worship. Intelligent and IT-centric access control solutions can go far in paving the way to safer grounds without compromising the open nature of these facilities, or the freedom to worship without the fear of possible harm.

Read more about the Freedom line of access control solutions from Viscount Systems.