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Sonitrol Commercial Security Blog ... by Joe Wilson



7 Ways To Protect Your Place of Worship From Crime

Posted by Joe Wilson

Jan 10, 2022 1:00:00 PM

In British Columbia, police reported a 60 percent increase in hate crimes between 2019 and 2020. And just this month in Regina, racist graffiti was sprayed on a local business. 

Then there’s the continuous stream of news articles about places of worship – churches being damaged in Victoria, Edmonton mosques being vandalized, racist graffiti on a Sikh temple in Calgary, anti-Semitic graffiti on Victoria’s Jewish Life and Learning Centre. 

It makes it easy to understand why some western provinces, like Alberta, were offering grants of up to $100,000 to places of worship and ceremonial facilities to improve security infrastructures. And why plans to implement hate crimes units are being discussed. Both these programs reflect the need for better protection against hate crimes. 

While more programs may come forward to help places of worship and those who regularly experience crimes of hate, it is important for organizations and businesses to take steps to protect their property and those who frequent their establishments. 

Here are seven ways your place of worship, religious facility or other organization can do just that:

1 - Connect with local authorities

Local police and firefighters will often offer advice and help you to create a security plan if asked. If you have a security plan in place, they can review it to make sure it’s effective at stopping criminal activity on your premises.

Not only that but communicating with local authorities and showing them your facility will help you to create a strong relationship with them. It also means they will be more familiar with your facility in the event of an emergency, which can help lead to quicker response times and greater rates of apprehension. 

2 - Conduct an annual risk assessment

Criminals are constantly evolving to increase their chances of getting away with the crimes they commit. That means existing security plans and systems can soon become outdated and ineffective. Each year it’s important to conduct a risk assessment of your place of worship.

By regularly reassessing your facilities, you will be able to find any new weaknesses in your property, as well as any deficiencies in your security system.

3 - Fix any signs of neglect

There’s a criminology theory called ‘the broken windows theory. This theory states that visible signs of crime, anti-social behaviour or civil disorder create an urban environment that encourages further crime and disorder.

That means any damage to your place of worship, or the surrounding property can encourage further crimes to take place. By ensuring the upkeep and maintenance of your property and building, you can help deter would-be criminals from targeting your facility.

4 - Run a background check on volunteers

Most people who want to volunteer at your place of worship will be decent people with good intentions. While it may sound over the top, you should run a background check on every single person that volunteers, especially if they will have a security role and/or keys to the property. 

Running these background checks is a way of ensuring that all your members are fully protected from criminal activities. And it will demonstrate that your place of worship puts its member’s welfare and safety first.

5 - Create a community watch program 

When reaching out to your local authorities, you can also ask them to do regular drive/walk bys to check for criminal activity and show that there is a police presence. If your place of worship is located near houses or businesses, you can reach out to the owners and ask them to report any unusual or suspicious activity they may witness when the property is unattended. 

6 - Deter criminals with proper landscaping and lighting 

To help deter criminals from entering your property, and to help authorities when there is criminal activity, define your property with fencing and landscaping and post signage that indicates the property is private and/or under surveillance. Trim bushes and shrubs and keep garbage bins or other large objects away from the building. This will reduce hiding places for criminals and ensure that there is proper lighting around your building. 

7 - Install a verified alarm system

Most religious establishments still use outdated and ineffective CCTV systems, if they even use a security solution at all. Unfortunately, traditional CCTV only serves to record a crime in progress. While this recording might help police to find a criminal after the crime has been committed, the damage to your property will have already been done.

A verified security solution, on the other hand, will send a live video or audio feed directly to a security expert in a central monitoring station. Once a criminal tries to gain access to your place of worship, this security expert will be able to verify the threat and send real-time updates directly to your local police department.

This verification means police respond to verified alarms in just 3.5 minutes - compared to traditional alarms in which response times are often longer than 45 minutes.

Want more tips that will help you protect your place of worship or information about Sonitrol Western Canada’s unique verified alarm solution? Contact our team of security experts today

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Topics: Verified Video Surveillance, Place of Worship

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Joe Wilson, Owner of Sonitrol Western Canada

We provide our customers with the best commercial security solutions and quality service backed by our unique Guarantee and Commitment to Service. It's something unverified conventional alarm companies simply cannot guarantee!

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