Local security expert weighs in following uptick in church vandalisms

Published: Jul. 11, 2022 at 7:36 PM CDT
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KANSAS CITY, Mo. (KCTV) - An act of kindness at the Kansas City United Church of Christ comes days after an act of vandalism.

The nonprofit group Seven Days offered a “kindness basket” to the church Monday, complete with tokens like snacks, books and stickers as a gesture of goodwill.

“We’ve been really overwhelmed with all of the positive messages we’ve been receiving,” said Emily Stott, the church’s secretary.

Last week, doors recognizing pride month were painted over. Just days later, the Church of Ascension in Overland Park had the words “My Body, My Choice” spray painted on their door. The church’s Virgin Mary statue was doused in red paint.

Nick Spencer is the vice president of operations for Strategos International, a company based in Independence, Missouri, that specializes in church security.

“We have trained thousands of church congregations across the nation,” Spencer said. “We say, ‘From the parking lot to the pulpit, from band-aids to bullets.’”

He said churches are vulnerable to attacks like these in times of political tension.

“We’ve seen patterns like this before,” he said. “Any time there is a political movement, ruling inside the Supreme Court, or just these topics become more prevalent, then you’ll often see a rise in attention – sometimes good, sometimes bad – in regards to church communities. People that don’t necessarily have that same belief system are going to lash out at the churches, thinking that they’re the ones that have driven this decision. A lot of times, it’s small groups of people that are trying to cause tension, violence and anger, and pit these groups against each other.”

Spencer suggests churches look into ramping up security efforts by making sure lighting and camera systems are in place, and considering increasing security patrols.

Above all else: Keep safety at the center of focus.

“The most important thing is, no matter how passionate you are about your beliefs, you always want to make sure that you do things safely,” Spencer said. “You don’t want to approach these people. Always call 911 if possible.”

Strategos will host its annual church security training conference at Kansas City’s Vineyard Church next month. Between 500 to 750 people from across the country are expected to attend.