Reducing a Church’s Exposure to Risk
By: James T. McGowan
As a group, churches are considered high-risk by insurance companies, and it is reflected in their soaring premiums. There are sound reasons for the disparity in insurance costs. Collectively, churches are easy targets for internal and external theft. There is open access to computers, copiers, and media devices. Sound and A/V equipment is often high-end and extremely expensive. Musicians leave their various instruments at the church unsecured and unattended.
Areas that contain confidential files and sensitive information stored on office computers are often unsecured and can often be accessed by anyone. The importance of securing and managing access to these areas is often overlooked, even though the liability to a church and its administration can be devastating.
Embezzlement can also be a problem. Many take a naïve approach when handling money that donors have gifted. Too often, we read about a church that has suffered a staggering financial loss. Rarely do you find a church that has an effective system of checks and balances that includes clearly defined boundaries from the top down, strong oversight, and, most importantly, a separation of collections from controllership.
Missing keys can be another issue altogether. Most churches cannot afford to re-key every time a key gets lost, so they brace themselves for the consequences and live with the risks of too many keys in circulation.
Break-ins, Thefts, and Vandalism
Jace Allen, an elder, said, "Our perimeters were breached many times, and we experienced vandalism and thefts of our sound and audio equipment. We looked at re-keying and found it to be an inadequate solution. After re-keying, we would still have a mechanical system that could be compromised by the loss of one key."
Dedicated to reaching out to their culturally diverse community, church leaders were determined to make Seattle First Presbyterian a safe and secure place to be, so they installed an electronic lock cylinder and key access system.
He said, "It was the quickest and least expensive action we could take because our existing door locks could be easily retrofitted and we'll never have to re-key again."
It's a Matter of Being Good Stewards
John Jackson, facilities manager, said, "As a church, we look at security slightly different—we do not want to squelch the flame of people that serve. There's a delicate balance between elevated security and the freedom of an open environment. However, as a church, we are concerned about every dime and penny that is spent. Of particular concern is keeping track of physical assets that help us minister to our people. We need an audit trail of when people are accessing areas and a way to control that access."
Calvary Chapel implemented a comprehensive security system that includes security patrols, an electronic lock and key system, and a network of CCTV cameras.
Jackson said, "With the electronic lock and key system, we can change someone's access privileges on-the-fly without issuing cut-keys. Each person's electronic key is programmed with the permissions they need to do their job, so we have tighter control of overall access."
No End in Sight to Re-Keying Costs
Maximizing Insurance Coverage
Gaining Acceptance for Access Control
Churches Must Not Become Complacent
James T. McGowan is vice president of sales & marketing at Videx, a company that designs and manufactures CyberLock and Flex System access control solutions for worship facilities, www.videx.com.