Society has been accustomed to seeing cameras mounted in public places on a daily basis. This includes grocery stores, banks, and even your place of worship. Even if your church currently uses cameras as part of your existing security program, it may be time to revisit the plan as a whole.
The technology behind the current generation of security cameras is amazing. Wi-Fi connectivity has dramatically reduced the cost of installation. The improved image quality, motion sensing capability, night vision and low cost digital storage have increased the value proposition for a video surveillance system in your church.
Cameras can be placed to watch over your valuable church buildings, artifacts, offerings, members, visitors, and even your church staff and children placed in your care. Cameras make it possible for your security team to monitor multiple locations at one time. Playback of stored digital recordings can be used to disprove allegations of misconduct, as well as provide evidence of crimes against the church or its attendees. Cameras provide a powerful deterrent to those meaning to commit crimes on your property. Additionally, date and time codes provide essential information for an investigation.
Church leaders should work with a local and reputable commercial security company to design and install a system that meets your church’s needs. They will work closely with your church leaders to design and install a system utilizing Underwriters Laboratory listed commercial equipment to meet your specific needs. If your church isn’t ready for a commercially designed and installed system, there may be some low cost do it yourself alternatives available to monitor high risk areas, such as money handling and daycare centers. Some do it yourself cameras have motion sensing technology and can send a text or email to you with a link to the captured image when they are activated.
Places where surveillance cameras are recommended to monitor and secure the property are listed below:
- Building entrances
- Parking lots
- Worship centers
- Youth group meeting/recreation rooms
- Money counting rooms
- Pastoral or lay-minister counselling rooms
- Daycare centers
- Sunday school rooms
- Rest room hallways
- Coat rooms/racks
There are legal concerns that must be addressed prior to utilizing security cameras at your church. First, check with your church’s attorney about laws that apply in your specific circumstance. Post signs to inform attendees that you are using cameras for the church’s protection. Privacy laws limit how videos and images can be accessed and used. While cameras in daycare centers provide significant protection against allegations and can be used to monitor teacher/worker performance, there are privacy considerations and live streaming of video to parents that needs to be strictly controlled and secured. Lastly, no cameras should be placed in areas where there is a reasonable expectation of privacy, including bathrooms, diaper changing areas and other places where privacy is expected.
Security cameras can be an integral part of your church security program when installed and operated in accordance with privacy laws. Research local security vendors in your area and invite them to tour your church and provide you with advice on a system that meets your needs.