Our worship centers are not exempt from the crimes of opportunity and other losses that are found in the rest of our world. The nature of the worship experience makes us vulnerable. So with a special eye we need to review our surroundings and determine how to better protect the institution, its property and the congregation it serves.
While all threats cannot be prevented by visual security systems, the documentation provided enables many to be deterred or resolved. The illegitimate slip-and-fall suit will not succeed if there is a visual record of the hoax. The breaking and entering to steal the praise team’s new sound system will be caught on video. If the security camera system is visible, then these activities might not even take place.
Security cameras have come down in price and are less intrusive than before. One of our favorite types of camera is the small dome camera. These come in many different styles, including smoked domes, which obscure where the camera is pointed. Security cameras can be mounted in a fixed position, or remotely controlled as needed, and the control system can be as simple as an ethernet computer cable. The smaller models are easy to conceal. For outdoor surveillance – in a parking lot, for instance – cameras can be protected by outdoor housing. The new mega-pixel cameras on the market provide some four times the detail in an image than does standard video.
Digital Video Recorders (DVRs) enable you to digitally record events “TIVO” style, without videotape. The images are stored on a computer hard drive – the larger the drive, the more storage space and the longer time before the images will be recorded over. Internally they typically use four channel encoding cards, so design your camera system in 4, 8, 12 or 16 channels to get the best cost payback from your recorder.
A major advantage of DVR is the ability to view the recorded image remotely on the Internet. This empowers you or your authorized personnel to connect and view from home, for instance, or from the local police station. The ability to respond quickly – to pull the view of the camera when the burglar alarm first goes off, for example – helps you determine whether the alarm is genuine or a false trigger.
The important thing is to have a record. It deters some threats and defuses others, documents those events that do happen and differentiates a real alarm from a false one. The record defends you, and protects your work and your position in the community. Today’s AV technology enables houses of worship to create that record affordably and with relative simplicity.