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Armed Security: Is It Necessary?After the Sandy Hook catastrophe, a local high school contacted Sunstates Security about providing armed security or police at every possible entrance. Such a system would not only be expensive, but also ineffective. Instead, Sunstates recommended implementing early warning mechanisms, communication, buffer zones, and safe rooms.

Lockdown protocols and safe rooms prevent attackers from accessing potential victims. The key is to build communication and early warning systems, and have those protocols in place before an incident occurs.

The presence of armed security officers could, in fact, provoke violent responses, potentially resulting in even more victims.

Best Practices for Armed Security

Sunstates President Glenn Burrell worked for 20 years in Scotland Yard, during which he served on the security detail for Great Britain’s Royal Family. Studies at Scotland Yard, which is mostly an unarmed force, revealed that armed officers were more prone to aggression and confrontation, which escalated the likelihood of violence.

More than 98% of Sunstates’ security coverage is unarmed. In the rare instances where armed protection makes sense, the firm recommends the following best practices.

  1. The right person for the job. In cases where an armed security force is necessary, recruit individuals with extensive firearms training, such as former police officers or military personnel. These individuals should also be screened for the correct psychological profile and temperament. “Simply giving a security officer a firearm and putting him or her out there is a recipe for disaster,” Burrell says.
  2. Verbal and non-verbal de-escalation skills. Defusing tension and conflict is critical to avoid violence, even if the officer is armed. Sunstates Security officers undergo extensive training in defusing conflict through verbal and non-verbal communication. This approach has proven effective in managing threats and reducing the threat of violence.
  3. Risk management. Certain assignments – like cash-based establishments in high-crime neighborhoods – are better left to police. Assigning private security officers would only place those individuals at risk. With private security personnel currently outnumbering public law enforcement by three to one, the best practice is to protect the private sector with proactive security, while freeing police to deal with criminals.

For consultation on your security needs, contact Sunstates Security today. Our specialists can help you develop a security plan tailored to your unique

Written by Sunstates Security

May 10th, 2013 at 2:57 pm


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Image for Houses of Worship Security Post

In December 2007, Matthew Murray walked into New Life Ministries in Colorado Springs, Colo., with Armageddon on his mind. Armed with a semi-automatic rifle, two handguns, and plenty of ammunition, he walked into the front foyer of the church and started shooting. He killed two teenage sisters and wounded three other congregation members before he was shot and wounded by a security volunteer carrying her own concealed handgun. He then took his own life. 

Later it was discovered that, during the previous night, Murray had tried to gain entry into a youth mission center in Arvada, Colo. When he was refused, he shot four people, killing two of them, before he fled. He had been planning his anti-Christian rampage for some time.

This nightmare scenario is rare, but all places of worship must be aware that at some point, for any reason, they could become of the target of any number of threats, from deranged or disgruntled individuals, to thieves and vandals. In 2008, 30% of faith-based organizations suffered some sort of security threat. Seventy-five percent of those had no security measures in place.

The Uncertain Line between Open and Safe

Faith-based organizations must walk a careful line between being open, welcoming places that can bring hope to society’s “lost” and the moral and legal necessity to protect their congregations. Thanks to President Glenn Burrell’s experience on the security detail for Britain’s Royal Family, Sunstates Security knows how to strike that balance between accessibility and safety. Sunstates Security has accumulated more than a quarter million hours of experience providing security for faith-based organizations.

Large faith-based organizations are often more likely targets and – since they have larger budgets – are more likely to put real security in place, either security officers or trained congregation volunteers. For open worship centers, Burrell stresses a soft approach that includes security officers, threat identification, and employee education and vigilance. Burrell says, “Very rarely does a serious threat show up out of the blue. Matthew Murray is a perfect example.”

Burrell says, “A security team in any place of worship should start with a thorough review of security contingency procedures, then establish some best practices and adhering to them. The time to look at these things is not after the fact.”

  • Team Composition. Identify and install a security director and thoroughly screen security team members. Train them to handle communication, evacuation, and emergency response. Include medical professionals along with law enforcement or security officers on your team.  Consider building a security team of volunteers from experts within the congregation, including doctors, EMTs, FBI, Secret Service or other law enforcement professionals.
  • Medical Training. Assemble a comprehensive and fully stocked first aid room on-site. Train your safety team in first aid and CPR and instruct them to look for emergency medical ID cards.
  • Attack Response. Develop contingency plans or lockdown procedures, and have them in place in the event of an attack. Implement evacuation and emergency drills. Communicate your security procedures to your congregation, employees, and volunteers.
  • Equipment and Access. Use security equipment such as cameras, alarms, and panic buttons. Limit access to certain areas, such as classrooms or children’s centers.
  • Firearms. Every place of worship must decide for itself whether to allow its security team to carry weapons. If so, ensure that the team members are licensed (if required) and thoroughly trained to use any issued weapons properly. Educate your security team to use conflict resolution methods before resorting to weapon use.

Sunstates Security can help your place of worship develop and maintain effective security plans, including site vulnerability assessments, training, and personnel. Contact us today to find out how.


BBC News, “US church gunman killed himself”, December 12, 2007 —

New York Times, “Gunman Kills 2 at Missionary Center Near Denver”, December 9, 2007 —

Written by Sunstates Security

December 10th, 2012 at 9:34 pm