QUESTION #4: Why is it important for churches to have a relationship with their local law enforcement agencies and what are some practical ways they can make this connection?
“I think one of the best things that churches could do…is to connect with the police department. Building relationships with the police at your local police agency is a good way to obtain guidance on how to better protect your church. In many cases, they have community services officers who can give a cursory review of your overall safety and provide the guidance and case-specific solutions that you need to protect yourselves.
You really don’t want to get to know your police department for the first time during a tragic event. Having built relationships ahead of time goes a long way toward helping to mitigate and prevent some crime. You want your church to be able to be a place where officers feel comfortable parking their vehicles for traffic enforcement. Some parishioners may not like that, but you want to the police to feel comfortable. You want it to be a place where they feel that they can come and stop by for a cup of coffee and discuss what’s going on, a place to come and do their reports. It’s important to build those relationships because it pays you back having them connected to you as well as part of the community.
…I think that there are various times throughout the year that are beneficial for, say Memorial Day, 4th of July, that a church could take the opportunity to invite police and emergency personnel to services to take the time to honor them. A lot of times I think of police as the unforgotten community out there because they’re just expected to be out there doing their job. The public should feel that and expect that of their servants, but I think it’s also important for churches to take the step to reach out to them because a lot of times they’re too busy to do it the opposite way.”
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