By Ron Aguiar; Reviewed by Jack F. Dowling, CPP, PSP
Keeping Your Church Safe is a short, simple, and eye-opening work for houses of worship that manage their own security.
** Keeping Your Church Safe. By Ron Aguiar; Published by Xulon Press, www.xulonpress.com (Web); 143 pages; $14.99.
The unfortunate reality today is that houses of worship are no longer immune from violent crime. The deadly 2007 shooting rampage that hit both Colorado’s Youth with a Mission and New Life Church was one of the starkest examples of this reality, which author Ron Aguiar has faced for a decade as director of safety and security at a Louisville, Kentucky, church that draws 18,000 worshippers each week.
The book is short and simple. Though security professionals know this information already, it will be eye-opening for the leaders of many houses of worship, who manage security on their own.
Aguiar rightly emphasizes the risk management approach to both security and more traditional safety concerns. Early discussion revolves around the goals of assessing, controlling, transferring, and accepting risks, whether they are low-probability, high-consequence events like violent crime or more common concerns like the safety of playground equipment.
Chapter 10 provides a lengthy discourse on the risk of child abuse. In this section, much attention is given to warning signs and the responsibilities of churches to screen those who will be in contact with children, including volunteers.
Aguiar recommends that readers develop an emergency response and crisis management plan to meet these threats and challenges. He further explains the formation and operation of a security committee to guide implementation of a sound security program. The book offers copious references and resources for further research and assistance, including government sites.
This work is framed in a Christian context, is printed by a Christian publisher, and features Bible passages related to the subject matter. A religious tone in a security book is unusual, but given the subject matter, it does not seem particularly out of place. Most important, the lessons provided are relevant to any house of worship, regardless of faith.
Reviewer: Jack F. Dowling, CPP, PSP, is president of JD Security Consultants, LLC, in Downingtown, Pennsylvania. He teaches in the Criminal Justice Administration Program at the University of Phoenix. He is a member of the ASIS International Commercial Real Estate Council and the Facilities Physical Security Measures Guideline Committee.