Then said he unto them, But now, he that hath a purse, let him take it, and likewise his scrip: and he that hath no sword, let him sell his garment, and buy one.
It’s a sad reality that I have to write this, but I am heartened by the fact that people are asking these questions. We live in an age of Christian persecution, whether some wish to admit it or not, and that persecution has led to our Churches and gatherings becoming easy targets. The paradigm shift from simple castigation and stigma to legal discrimination has slid, predictably, to violence amid a society where nothing is deemed Holy.
Whether its a calm and collected shooter motivated by hate or a bomber or truck driver ramming a crowd motivated by the Hadith, Christians have a moral obligation to protect one another during these times. I seek to remind you that to the Saracen, the Crusades never ended and with the recognition of Jerusalem (that they call al Quds) as the capital of Israel, we are very likely to see violence increase in many areas. Do not fall into the trap of saying it can’t happen to you.
Your Pastor or Priest may abhor the idea of armed laity in the congregation. The congregation itself may be leery of the idea. And I completely understand that our Sanctuaries should be the last place one would invite violence and so should you. But simultaneously persons of faith should recognize and point out to others that over the past year the pattern of violence has steadily increased and sadly will likely continue to do so. As we approach Christmas and before we know it, Easter, our gatherings will be prime targets. I feel that protection of our Churches and people is an absolute requirement and a moral obligation imposed upon us by our Faith, no different than that of the Templars protecting pilgrims to the Holy Land and Warrior Clergy defending their parishes in the Middle Ages to the present day Chaplain Corps.
That said, I was presented with the following question:
I’m on my Church’s security detail and comms are pretty relaxed and there is no real protocol in place. Can you give me some pointers, etc?
This is a much deeper topic than it appears. My first answer was centered around recommending equipment and building a local community network for the congregation, all things I’ve previously covered in this blog. But that’s not what was being asked. The equipment is already there as they’re avid readers of the blog; there’s licensed folks and first responders among the congregation- the question is what to do with what they have. So my second answer is this:
- Callsigns should be associated with location in church, not the name of the member. This will eliminate the “hey, Tom, where are you currently?” questions. In any security detail, just as I would assign Light Infantry Team members to sectors of watch in a static security position, PSD group members are given sectors of fire or “areas of responsibility” with the principle, in this case the congregation, the center. So Tom and Jeff would be main entrance, Steve and Mike would be Altar, Will and Luke the side entrances, etc. Not only does this eliminate any question of where or what a member is covering or doing but this also serves a rapid intelligence reporting purpose- if contact (an active shooter) happens, by that callsign you’ll know where it’s happening. The person in charge of the detail, what we would should the Sergeant of the Guard, is the roamer checking the others. His callsign can be anything, but SOG has always been appropriate.
- Have a PACE plan. Primary, Alternate, Contingency, Emergency frequencies. Four separate channels in case one gets jammed or otherwise doesn’t work. When you program your Church PSD radios, ONLY program those four. That way under stress there’s only four options.
- Practice, Practice, Practice. If y’all have Sunday School and/or Men’s & Women’s breakfasts prior to service, the members of the PSD need to run their commo drills during this time. You should ALWAYS conduct radio checks prior to the service. Take a couple of Sundays doing it early, walking through getting into your positions and using those location callsigns versus just saying each other’s names over your network. The more you do this, the fewer bad habits you’ll keep.
Above all else, understand it takes a team. One armed defender is great. Two armed defenders is excellent. Two armed defenders who’ve never trained with one another, just got their CCW and called it a day, are just untrained guys with a gun and possibly as dangerous to the congregation as an active shooter. Simply being armed my feel like a deterrent but it is not enough. You have to coordinate, you have to actively train, and yes, that includes walking through drills inside the Church. Keep it simple. But on the upside, I can’t think of a better way to get closer to your fellow faithful, build those communal bonds, and deepen your own faith in the process.
We do these things not out of hate or fear but love.