Case Study: House of Worship Responds to ISIS Threat
At eleven o’clock on a Thursday night, the local Department of Homeland Security (DHS) office contacted a house of worship protected by Sunstates. The Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) had issued a public threat directing followers to burn this institution to the ground.
Sunstates President Glenn Burrell, CPP, discussed and analyzed the threat with the client contact. They concluded that the multimillion-dollar annex faced little risk, due to its state-of-the-art fire suppression system. However, the original sanctuary—more than a century old and constructed entirely of wood—could present an attractive, symbolic target.
“Such an attack would send shock waves throughout the country,” said Burrell. “We couldn’t add resources to their budget, so we identified the most vulnerable areas and redirected security there.”
The site was already using a mobile management system to monitor inspections and issues. Sunstates immediately increased patrols around the historic sanctuary and added more checkpoints to confirm thorough inspections of the area.
In addition, Sunstates reinforced anti-surveillance techniques with security personnel. While conducting their duties, officers keep an eye out for anyone who appears to take special interest in the building and/or its security. Officers politely offer assistance to such individuals, a gesture that also conveys the vigilance of the security team.
By coincidence, the Sunday following the DHS alert saw the launch of a pilot program that Sunstates had developed with the client several months earlier. Sunstates trained ushers at the church as part of the security team. These volunteers completed rigorous security courses, including firearms training and licensure. Moving forward, these individuals will adhere to the Sunstates training requirements for armed personnel—quarterly refresher training, in addition to the annual qualification required by states.
“Even though they’ve volunteered their services, they are part of the security team,” said Burrell of the ushers. “In their role as greeters, they serve as the first line of defense in a potential situation.”
For information on how Sunstates Security can help your house of worship or organization prepare for such threats, please call us at 866-710-2019 or email us.