Book Review: Watch My Sheep
By Jack Rolfe. Jack Rolfe; jackrolfe.com; 162 pages; $20.
An introduction to developing and implementing security procedures for houses of worship, Watch My Sheep is designed for the layman. While leaning towards evangelical churches, the book offers practical suggestions gleaned from author Jack Rolfe’s experience as a church security administrator. It will benefit pastors and individuals who are interested in security; however, it falls short in the areas of research and technical recommendations to assist the security professional.
The first paragraph states, “In the past, churches were off limits to most criminals. Everyone respected our places of worship. Church was a ‘Safe Zone’ in the community. Church was filled with ‘Good People.’ Crimes at a church were rare.” This statement is incorrect. Churches have often been safe havens for criminals seeking refuge and asylum, while others harbored and protected pedophiles, and other religious leaders participated in astonishing acts in the name of religion.
Houses of worship face many threats, both from people inside the facility and people outside of the facility. Security efforts must focus on eliminating the entry of people who want to do harm, but they must also focus on those who are in our midst, sitting in the pew next to us. Rolfe fails to cover topics such as sexual abuse and embezzlement, and his assessment that active shooters are “strangers” is not supported by research.
Throughout the book, Rolfe encourages the reader to “think like a criminal,” a creative way to role play. This may or may not result in effective training in encouraging pastors and church administrators to begin to think about security.
Watch My Sheep is an easy read, and it advocates simple steps to increase security, including creating security teams, training greeters and ushers, and employing radios, cameras, and other security measures. Rolfe offers suggestions on the challenges of coordinating, training, communicating, and organizing volunteers who have no law enforcement or security training.
The book provides recommendations that are easily implemented and a good basis for a security program formulated with volunteers. The book falls short in the areas of technical recommendations such as access control and crime prevention through environmental design; however, the recommendations are solid and if implemented will result in a more secure facility. It just needs to go further.
Reviewer: Paula L. Ratliff, BSC, MS, is the author of Crime Prevention for Houses of Worship, published by ASIS International. She is an active member of the ASIS Cultural Properties Council, Houses of Worship Subcommittee.