Skip to main content

Strategies for Enhancing Building Security in Places of Worship

By January 31, 2024Building Security
Lit prayer candles in a dim room in a place of worship

In a place of worship, visitors, congregants, and worshippers should be able to focus only on things such as community, self-reflection, and faith. 

They shouldn’t have to worry about their safety and security.

However, the reality is that places of worship are sometimes subject to security threats, attracting criminals and those looking to send a message.

Fortunately, with the right preparation and mitigation tactics, places of worship can effectively mitigate these threats, protect their communities, and give their worshippers the space they need to feel safe.

A Step-by-Step Guide to Improving Building Perimeter Security

Learn more about the vulnerabilities places of worship face and strategies to enhance building security without sacrificing the special elements of their spaces, ensuring that congregants can focus on faith and fellowship without fear.

Security Vulnerabilities in Places of Worship

Despite being a place of solace for those seeking peace of mind, places of worship have, unfortunately, become targets of security threats. 

According to a Dolan Consulting Group analysis of the National Incident-Based Reporting System, there are approximately 480 incidents of serious violence at places of worship in the U.S. each year. In particular, violent extremists view faith-based institutions as attractive targets due to their symbolism, perceived lack of security, accessible locations, and belief that their actions will enhance the impact of past attacks.

Unfortunately, churches, temples, mosques, synagogues, and other places of worship often lack adequate physical security measures, making them vulnerable to attacks, vandalism, or even severe weather incidents. For example, while awareness is growing, only 57 percent of U.S. Protestant pastors have active shooter plans.

However you look at it, there is room for improvement in securing these sacred spaces. To help jump-start your institution’s building security enhancements, there are some key improvements your place of worship can make.

How Places of Worship Can Enhance Building Security

To counter these security threats, places of worship can take a range of proactive measures to enhance building security. This involves a combination of emergency preparedness, training, and physical upgrades, such as:

1. Security Barriers

Installing bollards, barriers, or gates at entry points can prevent unauthorized vehicle access, offering protection against potential vehicle-based attacks and reinforcing perimeter security.

2. Surveillance Systems

Strategically placing high-quality CCTV cameras throughout the property is an effective way to thwart potential violence, especially when these cameras cover entry points, parking areas, and key indoor spaces. You can pair these systems with other cutting-edge surveillance system features, such as motion sensors, night vision, and remote access, for real-time monitoring. 

3. Alarm Systems

In addition to visual and physical deterrents, a comprehensive alarm system that includes intrusion detection, smoke and fire alarms, and panic buttons in strategic locations can enhance security and increase law enforcement response times. Regularly maintain and test alarm systems to ensure they are working properly.

4. Lighting Upgrades

Another physical control and deterrent is improving exterior lighting around the place of worship. While simple, increasing the lighting can be a very impactful security measure, eliminating dark areas and making criminal activity less likely. Motion-activated lights can also deter intruders by drawing attention to suspicious movements.

5. Window and Glass Security Films

Reinforcing exterior windows and glass doors with security films can make them stronger and more resistant to break-ins or forced entry. Even if an intruder attempts to gain access, the delay these films provide can be the difference in implementing emergency response plans or getting law enforcement support. Additionally, window films can minimize harm by preventing broken glass from flying through the air.

Take the Next Step to More Comprehensive Building Security

It’s understandable to not want to think that violence or vandalism could happen at your place of worship, but if trends continue, it could be a matter of when not if an incident occurs. That’s why it’s critical to take action now to secure your building’s security—not only to ensure the safety and peace of mind of congregants and worshippers but also to protect the valuable artifacts stored inside.

By implementing strategies covered in this article, places of worship can indeed significantly enhance their building security. Fortunately, your organization may not have to go it alone; financial assistance may be available through programs such as the Nonprofit Security Grant Program, which helps to cover the costs of essential security upgrades.

Want to learn more about window security solutions that are specifically tailored for houses of worship like yours? You can explore all of the options that align with your congregation’s needs and values in our comprehensive e-book, Step-by-Step Guide to Improving Building Perimeter Security. Download it now.

Defend Your Glass
Hosted by James Beale
Learn how to protect your building’s weakest points from forced entry, bomb blasts, windstorms, and seismic events.

Powered by

Powered by

Can’t get enough?

Sign up to get the latest news on window film,
graphics, and signage delivered to your inbox every month!