Churches step up security for new year

By Tim Wronka, Reporter
Last Updated: Saturday, December 30, 2017, 6:02 PM EST

Churches around the Bay area are counting down to special New Year’s Day services tomorrow and Monday.

  • Churches increasing security measures for new year
  • Some churches have added security teams
  • Move comes after several attacks across the country

Some are even ringing in the new year with special midnight services.

This year especially, many churches are having a security plan in place.

At Without Walls International Church in Tampa, security director Alex Benjamin says his job is more serious than ever before, especially on holidays.

“We have more people that come on holidays, and not only that, lots of folks who’ve never come to the church,” Benjamin said. “And in general, you’re more aware now as far as who is who, who is parking, who is looking around during the service, that type of thing.”

Pastor Susan Funk says the church now has a security team of at least a dozen that constantly trains and is keeping watch.

“We’ve got a good team in place. They are doing nothing more than growing with a strategy. Then they revise the strategy. You always revise your strategy based on the needs out there,” Funk said.

“Yes it's high gear but every church out there should take similar measures. They really should,” she added.

The steps they’re taking are what security experts like Theodore Billiris feel all churches should now be doing, especially after several attacks across the country this year.

Billiris is the president of ESS Global Corp, and specializes in church security. He helped put the plan at Without Walls into place.

“The thing we like to see is that number one, churches understand that bad things do happen. And number two, that they understand that bad things can happen to us,” Billiris said.

He also recommends that churches work with local law enforcement to be visible at services, especially on holidays.  Many agencies say they will be visible at all different kinds of New Year’s events this weekend.