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:
- Provide adequate illumination of the parking lot.
- Designate persons who will accompany members to their car upon request. Be sure that this option is communicated to the congregation.
- Install one or more wide-angle video cameras on the church roof to monitor parking areas.
- Have a uniformed security guard, or off-duty police officer, monitor the parking lot.
For more suggestions, church leaders should contact local law enforcement officials and the church’s insurance agent.
“Yet again, we have seen a sanctuary violated by gun violence, taking children brimming with faith and promise and hope before their time. Our nation’s support and prayers are with the families of the victims, those still suffering in the hospital, and the entire Fort Worth community. Federal law enforcement officials are now working with state officials and local authorities to find all the answers. But we know we have to redouble our efforts to protect our children. We know we have to act as if it were our own children being targeted by gun violence. We know that there is nothing we can do to assure that this will never happen, but there is a lot more we can do to assure that it will happen more rarely; and I can only hope that the shock of this event will spur that kind of action.”
—President Bill Clinton, following a 1999 shooting rampage in a Texas church that left seven dead and seven more wounded.
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