When Wendy and I started this ministry, I knew it was God’s plan and we would see satan attacking us in all sorts of places. Some would take us by surprise, others we would see right in front of us. We have met some people along this journey that have made incredible promises to us only to see them use us to their advantage then turn on us. We have lost close friends because of difference of opinions but we have stayed true to Him. We know He is in control and sometimes we ask what is the reason for all of this. Yet in every bad situation we learned something of value, or we see His hands in the darkness and know that He was with us during these attacks which has made us stronger in our walk in this ministry.
Satan would love to see houses of worship and law enforcement agencies not get along. When
we share incidents that happen to our churches with law enforcement we are spreading the word
of those that would like to harm us or another a house of worship. It puts evil on notice, “15
When our enemies heard that we were aware of their plot and that God had frustrated it, we all
returned to the wall, each to our own work.” Nehemiah 4:15 (NIV). So when God frustrates a
plot to harm a church because of what the safety team and law enforcement put together we are
all working on the expansion of the Kingdom of God. What you must understand Satan doesn’t
want us to work together so we must train both sides to overcome this issue.
Recently, four different churches we work with have been attacked and these are not just minor incidences; these are attacks that need to be reported. During these attacks local law enforcement has been called and right now I am sad to say that I am wondering what is going on with my brothers in arms. Instead of getting into the weeds I want to list things that you need to do when something happens on your property that causes you great concern to the point you contact local law enforcement.
I have said this in all our presentations, you need insurance like USCCA if you are going to carry in the church. When you join USCCA, they provide you with a list of things to do in case you are involved in a shooting.
1. Call 9-1-1
2. Call Critical Response Team:1-877-677-1919
There are more instructions, however I think you get the gist. They want you to call them as soon as everyone is safe so they can also protect their member.
So those churches that have a Trinity Security Allies Church Safety & Security Membership have benefits also. If you have an incident that rises to the level of calling law enforcement, as soon as law enforcement leaves, you need to call me. I am finding more and more agencies are trying to talk churches out of making a report or making statements that cause the church to think that it is useless to make a report. One agency told the church that prosecution might be difficult, so the church thought why bother making a report. We cannot have that happen anymore. As your advocate of protecting your church and the churches around you, we cannot continue to skip making the report when something as serious as a church being vandalized with the Bibles in the church has been decimated.
Let me give you a couple of reasons why. In the four incidents with churches we work with, two of these incidents I would consider as a threat to the church and other churches in the area. We are fortunate nobody was hurt in either of these cases. The information needs to be shared with the safety team leaders of the church. With the information, safety team leaders can make informed decision on how to not let this happen on their campus.
Some of this information is sensitive so unless you make a report, I am going to refrain from sharing that information. This is just to protect the church and myself from being sued. Most of the time there are other ways to gather that information through public means. Public information is just that, available to the public. If I find public information on a person that has come into your church and caused you concern, I will send that information out to the safety team leaders and they can do with it what they please. We say this all the time in our training; this is not gossip or trying to harm someone’s reputation. This is protecting the flock and we must be careful about how we do it and how we share it. With a police report in hand I can share that information and do a little digging on my own. Florida is an open information state. This is a good thing. Other states that will not give out information on an arrested subject cause the public a big disservice. We never want to hurt someone’s character but using Spock logic “the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few, or the one”. This may sound a little harsh but if you have families bringing their children to your church, they have an expectation of being safe. If people don’t feel safe in your church, you won’t have a church.
Here is a list of things you need to do the next time you have an incident at your church that rises to the level of contacting local law enforcement. Copy these and put them somewhere you can find when you have an incident at your church.
1. Make sure everyone is safe. If you need to do a lockdown, do it. It is better to be safe than sorry. Try, if possible, to get a picture of the suspect and the vehicle the suspect is driving. Do this without putting yourself in harm’s way. You and the safety of everyone in your church is the number one priority.
2. Contact local law enforcement. If it is an emergency call 9-1-1. If not an emergency, you can contact their non-emergency number. Have this number written down somewhere, in your phone, so you don’t have to look it up.
3. Report to dispatch what you have. Dispatch will have a lot of questions to ask you. Be patient, they are getting information for the law enforcement officer (LEO) that is responding to the scene. In 9-1-1 calls as soon as you give your location and the emergency, units should be on the way.
4. If the dispatch tells you do not have a crime and they will not send anyone out, politely ask for a supervisor. When the supervisor talks to you, be professional and polite. Remember we get more with honey than vinegar and these phone calls are generally recorded. Tell them you want to see a LEO; don’t back down. They may try to talk you out of it; do not let them. Try to make sure you get all the names of those you have talked with for future references. Some dispatchers will give you a dispatcher number instead of a name; write it down.
5. After a LEO responds to your call, do not let them talk you out of the report. They may tell you that it is not a crime. Politely explain to them you want to do an “information only report”. Having been a detective I can tell you these types of reports help solve crimes. When we start to see patterns of crimes, these reports help in the apprehensions and convictions of the persons doing those crimes.
6. Ask for the report number. This helps me track down the report.
7. After all of this is over, call me, 727-267-0590. We will talk about the incident and what our next steps should be.
There must be a paradigm shift with law enforcement and houses of worship. Most houses of worship will not contact law enforcement unless there is a true concern. As a crisis negotiator we must learn that those concerns of the ones we are talking to are as real to them as the air they breathe. If law enforcement does not train their staff to respond to every call made from a house of worship as a concern, houses of worship will stop calling. We know what happens when we overlook the information gathered about persons of interest, we have Parkland, Sutherland Springs or the Washington Naval Yard shootings. There were warning signs in all of these and we must learn from our mistakes. If we don’t, we are doomed to repeat them and I don’t want to live with the burden that we didn’t do as much as we could to stop these types of acts of violence. We have to all work together, on the same page and support one another in this fallen world.
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Jim has many years of law enforcement experience and has run the safety team at his church for several years. TSA was formed after he realized God's calling when multiple churches reached out and asked him to present at their church.