Editor’s note: This article is Reposted from FBI Law Enforcement Bulletin, November 2022, and is written with law enforcement readers in mind. It is reproduced here because much of the information is also of use to church leaders evaluating their security arrangements.
By Royce Stephens
Recent headlines and incidents nationwide have demonstrated that church attacks are on the rise.1 Definitions and data in statistics vary greatly depending on what entity provides them; however, it is undeniable that violence against houses of worship is increasing in frequency and intensity — one source estimates 480 incidents occur in the United States each year.2
Once an atmosphere of safety, churches have become one of uncertainty. Increasingly, church members consult police departments for their security needs. Law enforcement professionals must provide as much help as possible to these generally vulnerable populations.
A firm grasp on the community’s religious makeup is important. Are any specific groups traditionally targeted? Is anyone known to be aggressive toward a particular affiliation? Have demonstrations concerning faith-based issues increased? Can a local fusion or information center provide current trends or intelligence?