De-escalation Tactics for Church Security: A Guide for Christian Warriors
We just released our FREE de-escalation course for church security teams. Click the link below.
De-escalation is an Important Aspect of Church Security
In today's increasingly complex social landscape, places of worship like churches are not exempt from incidents that require effective de-escalation techniques. Whether dealing with disruptive individuals during worship, managing a crisis situation, or even confronting an active shooter, the need for specialized church security training in de-escalation tactics has never been more urgent.
The Urgency and Practicality of De-escalation in Church Security
The rise in incidents involving disruptive individuals and even violent threats in places of worship underscores the critical need for effective de-escalation training. This is not just a matter of safety; it's a matter of ministry. Churches are tasked with providing a sanctuary for their congregation, and that includes both spiritual and physical safety. Resources like this article, along with practical training methods available on platforms like Christian Warrior Training, offer valuable insights and actionable techniques to assist church security teams in their mission to protect and serve.
Christian Warrior Training is a reader-supported publication. To receive new posts and support my work, consider becoming a free or paid subscriber.
Core Concepts in Church Security and De-escalation
Recognizing Physical and Psychological Reactions
One of the first steps in effective de-escalation is understanding both the congregation's and the security team's physical and psychological reactions to situations. This awareness is crucial for assessing threats and risks, and it may assist in maintaining self-control among security team members. Tactics and techniques can be employed to decrease the situational intensity and gain voluntary compliance from disruptive individuals.
Self-Control in High-Stakes Situations
Self-control is a cornerstone of effective de-escalation. Understanding the physical and psychological reactions of both the public and security team members can significantly assist in maintaining self-control. This is especially important when dealing with situations that could escalate into violence or other forms of crisis.
Effective Communication: The Key to Success
Clear commands and questions, good observation and listening skills, and appropriate terminology will enhance the likelihood of successfully de-escalating a situation. Strategic communication is vital for controlling a situation and enhancing both security member and community safety.
The Role of Deflection in Verbal De-escalation
Deflection is a specialized communication technique designed to redirect or neutralize potentially volatile situations. It's particularly useful when dealing with persons who are angry, upset, or verbally confrontational. Instead of responding in kind, security members can use deflection to steer the conversation in a more positive direction.
Verbal Deflectors: Practical Tools for Security Members
Verbal deflectors are phrases designed to acknowledge the other person's concerns while redirecting the focus back to the issue at hand. Examples of verbal deflectors include:
"I appreciate that, but..."
"I understand that, but..."
"I got that, however..."
"Maybe so, but..."
"I hear that, however..."
These phrases allow the security member to focus on the issue and not the attitude. The key to using verbal deflectors effectively is to acknowledge the comment and then immediately add "but" or "however" to redirect the conversation.
Subject: "You're an asshole!"
Security Member: "I hear that; however, I need you to leave the church."
By using deflection, security members can maintain control of the situation, ensuring the safety and security of the congregation while upholding the dignity and respect that are central to the mission of the church.
Scene Assessment and Management
When possible, security members should aim to get an accurate picture of what is occurring. This assists in the management of options and helps in making informed decisions. It's also crucial for determining the reasonable use of force techniques that may reduce situational intensity for the safety of all parties.
The Critical Decision-Making Model (CDM) in Church Security
Universal Respect for Human Life and Dignity
When forming a plan to address a security event, the universal respect for human life and dignity should be at the forefront. This ethical foundation guides all subsequent steps in the decision-making process.
Components of the CDM
The CDM involves several key components:
Collecting Information: This includes gathering data prior to and during the use of de-escalation techniques. Such information aids in threat risk assessment and should be documented in incident reports.
Assessing the Situation, Threats, and Risks: This involves determining if the situation poses a threat or risk to others and requires an immediate response. Security members should be aware of the situation and assess and request appropriate resources.
Law and Policy: Security members need to consider legal obligations and powers based on federal, state, and local ordinances, as well as church policy.
Plan: This involves identifying roles and responsibilities, contingencies, options, and resources.
Act, Review, and Reassess: De-escalation is dynamic. Security members should implement a plan and prepare to adjust it as needed. The action's effectiveness should be assessed, and lessons should be learned following the conclusion of the contact.
Strategic Communication Models in Church Security
Effective communication is a cornerstone of any security strategy, and this is especially true in a church setting where the focus is on creating a welcoming yet secure environment. Two popular models that can be employed are LEAPS and the 5-step technique. Both offer structured approaches to communication that can be invaluable in de-escalating potentially volatile situations.
LEAPS: Listen, Empathize, Ask, Paraphrase, Summarize
LEAPS is an acronym that stands for Listen, Empathize, Ask, Paraphrase, and Summarize. It provides a structured approach to communication that can be particularly effective in de-escalating tense situations.
The first step is to actively listen to the individual. This not only helps in understanding the situation better but also shows the individual that they are being heard, which can be calming.
Empathy involves understanding and sharing the feelings of another. By empathizing, you can build a connection that can be crucial in de-escalation.
Asking open-ended questions can provide valuable insights into what the individual is thinking and feeling. It can also guide them towards finding their own solutions to the issue at hand, thereby reducing tension.
Paraphrasing involves repeating back what the individual has said in your own words. This confirms that you have understood them correctly and also gives them the opportunity to clarify if you haven't.
Finally, summarizing the conversation can help in bringing closure to the interaction and ensuring that both parties are on the same page.
The 5-Step Technique: A Structured Approach to De-escalation
The 5-step technique offers a more linear approach to de-escalation and is particularly useful when dealing with uncooperative or difficult individuals.
Ask – Ethical Appeal
The first step is to make an ethical appeal to the individual. For example, "I need you to calm down so we can resolve this peacefully."
Set Context – Reasonable Appeal
The second step involves setting the context or explaining why you are making this request. This can often help the individual see the reasonableness of your request.
Present Options – Personal Appeal
The third step involves presenting options, always starting with the most positive one. This gives the individual a sense of control over the situation.
Confirmation Stage – Practical Appeal
The fourth step is the confirmation stage where you ask the individual if there is anything else you can say or do to gain their cooperation.
The final step is to act based on the individual's response. This could mean disengaging to wait for further assistance or moving to a force option if the situation escalates.
When De-escalation Fails: The Necessity of Force Options
While the primary focus of church security is to create a safe and welcoming environment through de-escalation techniques and effective communication, there are instances where these methods may not suffice. In such cases, understanding and employing reasonable force options become critical. This is especially true when law enforcement is not on the scene and the congregation's safety is at immediate risk.
Understanding Reasonable Use of Force
The concept of "reasonable use of force" is a complex one, influenced by various factors such as the immediacy of the threat, the level of danger posed, and the available alternatives. Security team members must be trained to assess these factors quickly and accurately to determine the most appropriate course of action.
Best Practices for Using Force
Identify the Level of Threat: The first step in employing force is to accurately assess the level of threat. Is it an imminent danger that requires immediate action, or is it a situation that can be contained until law enforcement arrives?
Minimum Force Necessary: Always use the minimum amount of force necessary to neutralize the threat. Excessive force can lead to legal complications and tarnish the reputation of the church and its security team.
Verbal Commands: Before resorting to physical force, attempt to control the situation through clear and authoritative verbal commands. This serves as both a final attempt at de-escalation and a legal safeguard.
Non-Lethal Options: Whenever possible, use non-lethal force options such as tasers or pepper spray. These can incapacitate a subject without causing permanent harm.
Involve Law Enforcement: It's always best to have law enforcement deal with situations that require the use of force. If they are not on the scene, contact them as soon as it's safe to do so.
Scenarios: Practical Applications of Church Security Principles
Understanding the theory behind church security is crucial, but putting it into practice is where the rubber meets the road. Below are some hypothetical scenarios that illustrate how the principles and techniques discussed can be applied in real-world church security situations.
Scenario 1: Disruptive Individual During Service
During a Sunday service, a visibly agitated individual starts shouting and disrupting the worship. The security team is alerted.
Application of LEAPS
Listen: The security team approaches the individual and listens to his grievances without interrupting.
Empathize: Team members acknowledge the individual's feelings: "We understand you're upset, but we can't allow you to disrupt the service."
Ask: Open-ended questions are used to understand the individual's issue: "Can you tell us what's bothering you?"
Paraphrase: The team paraphrases the individual's complaints to ensure they've understood correctly.
Summarize: Finally, they summarize the conversation and guide the individual out of the sanctuary.
Use of Force Options
If the individual becomes physically confrontational, the security team employs non-lethal force options, such as pepper spray, to neutralize the threat and protect the congregation.
Scenario 2: Suspicious Individual Lurking Near Children's Area
A suspicious individual is seen lurking near the children's area. The security team is notified.
Application of the 5-Step Technique
Ask: A team member approaches the individual: "Sir, may I ask what you're doing here?"
Set Context: The context is set: "This is a restricted area for the safety of our children."
Present Options: Options are presented: "You can either move to the main sanctuary or leave the premises."
Confirmation Stage: The individual is asked if there's anything that can be done to gain his cooperation.
ACT: Based on the response, the team either escorts the individual to the main sanctuary or contacts law enforcement.
These scenarios serve as practical examples of how the principles and techniques discussed can be applied in real-world situations. They can be used as training material for church security teams to better prepare them for the challenges they may face.
The Effect of Time on Planning and Tactics
The Value of Slowing Things Down
In many situations, taking a step back and allowing more time to pass can be a valuable tactic in de-escalation. Slowing things down can provide security team members with the opportunity to assess the situation more thoroughly, gather additional information, and consider various options for resolving the issue peacefully.
Benefits of Taking Time
Improved Situational Awareness: Slowing down allows for better situational awareness, which is crucial for making informed decisions.
Enhanced Communication: More time often means better communication among team members and with the individual involved, increasing the likelihood of a peaceful resolution.
Reduced Intensity: Allowing time to pass can reduce the emotional intensity of a situation, making it easier to communicate and negotiate.
When Slowing Down is Counterproductive
However, there are situations where slowing things down may not be advisable. For instance:
Immediate Threats: In cases of immediate or escalating threats, taking time could endanger the congregation or team members.
Loss of Control: Waiting too long could result in a loss of situational control, making it more difficult to resolve the situation safely.
Of course, Keith. I'll revise the "Legal and Policy Considerations in Church Security" section to make it flow better in a paragraph style.
Legal and Policy Considerations in Church Security
Navigating the legal landscape is an essential aspect of church security. Ignorance of the law is not an excuse, and failure to adhere to legal standards can result in severe consequences for both the church and individual team members. Understanding federal, state, and local laws is crucial. For example, laws governing the use of force can vary significantly from one jurisdiction to another. Security team members must be well-versed in what is legally permissible in their specific location. This extends to understanding the legal boundaries of church property, as well as the rights of individuals on that property. Additionally, surveillance and data collection are often subject to strict legal guidelines, which must be followed meticulously to avoid legal repercussions.
Equally important are the policies set forth by the church itself. Many churches have a code of conduct that outlines acceptable behavior within the church premises. Security teams should be intimately familiar with these guidelines, as well as any specific protocols the church has for various emergency situations. Clear policies regarding the accountability and oversight of the security team should also be in place, including procedures for reporting and documenting incidents. In essence, a thorough understanding of both legal considerations and church policies is vital for the effective and ethical operation of a church security team.
Ensuring the safety and security of a church congregation is a complex but vital responsibility. From understanding the nuances of human behavior and effective communication to mastering de-escalation techniques, church security teams must be well-equipped to handle a range of situations. Time management plays a critical role in decision-making, allowing for thorough assessment and thoughtful action, although immediate intervention is sometimes unavoidable.
Legal considerations are equally important, requiring a deep understanding of federal, state, and local laws, as well as church-specific policies. A well-crafted church security policy serves as a cornerstone for all security activities, providing guidelines that help maintain professionalism, accountability, and legal compliance.
By integrating these various elements—effective communication, strategic planning, legal awareness, and a strong policy framework—church security teams can create a safer, more secure environment for worship. It's a challenging task, but with the right training and resources, it's wholly achievable.
Frequently Asked Questions | FAQ
Q: Why is de-escalation important in church security?
A: De-escalation is important in church security because it allows for a peaceful resolution to potentially disruptive or violent situations that may arise within a congregation.
Q: How can de-escalation techniques be used in church security?
A: De-escalation techniques can be used in church security to defuse tense situations, calm individuals, and prevent violent incidents from occurring.
Q: What is the purpose of church security training?
A: The purpose of church security training is to equip volunteers and ministry staff with the necessary skills and knowledge to handle various safety and security situations, including de-escalation techniques.
Q: How can church security teams respond to disruptive individuals?
A: Church security teams can respond to disruptive individuals by employing de-escalation strategies, such as using verbal techniques, understanding body language, and calmly assessing the situation.
Q: Where can I find resources on de-escalation for church security?
A: There are various resources available for de-escalation in church security, including websites, books, and training programs specifically designed for churches and their security teams.
Q: Are there any specific techniques that can be used to de-escalate a situation in a church setting?
A: Yes, there are specific techniques that can be used to de-escalate a situation in a church setting, such as active listening, empathy, using a calm tone of voice, and offering assistance or support.
Q: Is de-escalation training for church security professionals only?
A: No, de-escalation training is not limited to church security professionals. It is beneficial for all individuals involved in church ministry and can be particularly useful for volunteers who interact with congregants on a regular basis.
Q: Can de-escalation techniques also be applied to situations outside of the church?
A: Yes, de-escalation techniques can be applied to situations outside of the church as well. The principles and strategies used in church security can be adapted to various settings where conflicts may arise.
Q: What role does law enforcement play in church security and de-escalation?
A: Law enforcement can play a supportive role in church security and de-escalation by providing guidance, training, and assistance in managing potentially violent situations that may go beyond the capabilities of the church security team.
Q: Where can I find more information on church security and de-escalation?
Christian Warrior Training is a reader-supported publication. To receive new posts and support my work, consider becoming a free or paid subscriber.