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This article has addressed shootings and other violent crimes inside churches. Criminal acts also may occur in church parking lots. While these may include assaults, shootings, abductions, and rapes, they more often involve vandalism and property offenses. As with criminal acts occurring in church buildings, a church's legal duty to implement risk-reducing measurers in the parking lot will be based on the foreseeability that criminal acts will occur there. Churches have used some or all of the following measures to address this risk:

  1. Provide adequate illumination of the parking lot.
  2. Designate persons who will accompany members to their car upon request. Be sure that this option is communicated to the congregation.
  3. Install one or more wide-angle video cameras on the church roof to monitor parking areas.
  4. Have a uniformed security guard, or off-duty police officer, monitor the parking lot.

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Richard R. Hammar is an attorney, CPA and author specializing in legal and tax issues for churches and clergy.

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Posted:
  • March 3, 2008

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