Traditionally, churches, synagogues, temples, mosques and other places of worship in San Francisco, CA have been regarded as safe spaces; places of faith, and even sanctuary for those who need it. Sadly, in modern America, even places of worship are not necessarily immune to defacement, arson, or, in the worst cases scenarios, active shooter situations.
This is why it’s important for even places of worship in San Francisco, CA to consider the safety of worshippers. Criminal activity, whether it is theft, defacement or violence, can occur at sacred sites at any time of the day, whether people are present or not. And that means that places of worship can benefit from certain mindful applications of security.
Have A Plan
The first and most important thing that any place of worship can do is acknowledge that intrusion and/or criminal activity can happen, and plan an appropriate response. This way, if anything does occur, the people on the property, or responsible for its management, will know what to do and take the necessary actions to respond to the situation.
This means that there should be plans in place for intrusion when worshippers are present, such as an attack. However, it should also mean that there is a plan for a response when something occurs while people are absent, such as attempts at arson when a building is empty.
Have Evacuation Measures In Place
A more specific version of having a plan is the orderly evacuation of worshippers should an incident occur while people are present. For most people that go to a place of worship, they only know the entrance they use to come into the building, and they use that same entrance to leave.
Many buildings, especially newer ones, however, have multiple exits, especially to handle mass evacuations for incidents like fires. Ensure that for people helping to maintain the property, or attend and manage worship, there is an ability to help direct people to exits and put an evacuation plan into action should the situation require it.
Employ Modern Security
Finally, just because a place of worship often is older, and has a history, that doesn’t mean it can’t benefit from modern security measures. Surveillance cameras, for example, especially if they are set outside the property, can be a good deterrent against graffiti, defacement and even arson attempts. Alarms can be important both for fires and for alerting people to a break in. Even access control systems can help to ensure that people don’t go into areas of a building that, as worshipers, they are not supposed to be in.
When these types of security measures are tied into communication protocols or direct lines with the police or other EMS groups, this can mean a much faster response when something does happen, and law enforcement or medical assistance are required.
People of any faith in San Francisco, CA should be allowed to worship in safety. However, if something does happen, those same people deserve a fast, comprehensive response to the unwarranted threats they face in a place that should be safe for them.