Church Security System Case Study: Daring Faith

Just The Facts:

Customer: Daring Faith Celebration Centre

Challenge: Securing a worship center in a neighborhood plagued by homelessness, drugs and crime.

Solution: Developing an access control and surveillance system that allows congregants, pastors and staff to come and go, while securing the church from crime.

Results: A secure worship center with easy access for authorized personnel.

Customer Challenge

Daring Faith Celebration Centre has stood as a beacon of hope and safety in its San Francisco, California, neighborhood for over two decades. But a recent storm of homelessness, drugs, and crime had put the church’s security in jeopardy.

Daring Faith church leaders were concerned about staff and congregant safety, considering the recent spate of church shootings across the country. The church had also experienced its share of crime. Criminals had vandalized the worship center’s large glass entrance area and had broken in to steal expensive audio and video equipment and other valuables. 

It was time for a security update. The building’s outdated analog surveillance and alarm systems compromised its security.

Church leaders sought a trustworthy partner to enhance security. The worship center needed a security partner that could address its unique needs and help them navigate a complex federal grant process. 

“Before I started getting quotes or bids, I knew it was going to be expensive,” says Pastor Barb Cornejo. “With our budget, I knew we did not have the money. Someone shared with me an opportunity for Homeland Security grants, but they required me to get three quotes from three different companies to apply. It was a challenge finding companies that will work with churches and houses of worship.”

Pastor Barb delegated the task of creating a security plan and cost breakdown for the grant to three security companies, one of which was Safe and Sound Security. 

“There are grants available from the federal government for cameras, alarm systems, access control, card readers and even fencing for the perimeters of houses of worship,” says Zachary Palmquist, Safe and Sound Security project manager. “Applying for these grants is a complex process, and one we are happy to help with.”

Safe and Sound Security engineers evaluated the site, devised a plan, and estimated the system’s cost.

“We worked with Pastor Barb for eight to 10 months,” Palmquist says. “She came back to us every time the federal government had questions. This is where our engineering team really shined. We were able to answer all of her questions and help Pastor Barb through the entire grant process. Needless to say, when they were awarded the grant, they chose us for the project.”

The resulting installation uses:

  • 27 OpenEye security cameras that operate on an OpenEye cloud surveillance system,
  • Brivo cloud-based access control for the front doors, and an
  • Axis Communications’ video intercom system.

The project took eight days to install, and the church has since come back to Safe and Sound Security for additional work. 

Church Security Case Study - Daring Faith in San Francisco CA 4

Unique Considerations

The Daring Faith Worship Centre had recently undergone a complete church remodel. Pastor Barb requested that engineers remove old coaxial cable and conceal all new cabling. 

“One of the biggest challenges in this project was not the technology. We figured that out pretty easily,” Palmquist says. “It was figuring out how to hide cables when the entire area was already closed up with sheetrock. Ideally, we want to come in during the construction phase to install cables before things are closed up.” 

The walls were painted a lighter color, while the ceiling was painted black. “We had to use a combination of cable colors to get cables from Point A to Point B. The cabling couldn’t be intrusive and had to match the interior infrastructure of the building,” he explains. “We didn’t want to do things like putting a blue cable across the black ceiling or a black cable across a white wall.”

Safe and Sound Security also had to install cables in exterior areas by routing them over the building and roof. “We had to use UV-rated, outdoor-rated cables in those areas to make sure they would last on the exterior,” he says.

Pastor Barb reports Safe and Sound Security rose to every request. “If I said, ‘I want a camera here, they made it happen,’” she says. “I didn’t want conduits all over the place and they made sure they were hidden. You would never know they are there. They did a fantastic job.” 

Outside Views

Daring Faith leaders also desired surveillance views that spanned the church parking lot and looked back toward the face of the church. But the church’s positioning limited camera installation to the sole light pole in the parking lot. 

Putting cameras on light poles comes with its share of problems, according to Palmquist. He shares that power in light poles is typically 277 volts or higher. “However, most cameras operate on 120-volt power,” he says.

Another issue with using light poles for surveillance cameras is that electrical power shuts off during the day. The lights operate when the sun sets, and the schedule varies by the season. “The timer that controls this isn’t on the pole itself, it’s somewhere in the building,” Palmquist adds. 

“We had a couple of options to deal with these things,” he says. “We could dig up the parking lot and trench from the building to the pole or hire an electrician to run the right power next to the existing conduit, to get 120-volt power to the pole.”

Safe and Sound Security opted to have an electrician to pull cable, as trenching would have been too expensive and disruptive, to supply 120-volt power to the pole. Engineers also added an outdoor-rated electrical box with outlets inside, known as a NEMA enclosure, to the pole so they could plug in security cameras.

These changes didn’t totally solve the problem, according to Palmquist. Cat5 and Cat6 cabling cannot be installed near high-voltage electrical wires, obstructing power transmission to the top of the pole. 

Engineers resolved the issue by employing a Ubiquiti NanoBeam point-to-point radio to transmit camera feeds from pole-mounted cameras to a Ubiquiti NanoBeam receiver on the building. Now the four cameras on the pole capture a full view of the building and send video footage to staff inside.

Access Control

The main entrance used an outdated card reader that relied on a PIN code that never changed and Daring Faith shared that PIN code with all who needed access, according to Palmquist.

“They gave that four- to five-digit code to every member of the church,” he says. “We hope that none of their members would misuse the code, but you never know. That was a huge security concern.” 

Safe and Sound Security presented different options to Pastor Barb, who ultimately selected a Brivo Access Control System with a tri-tec reader, which allowed access via a PIN code, key fob or card, or a smartphone.

Palmquist explains the cloud-based Brivo system also allows authorized users to update it remotely. The old on-prem access control unit required an authorized user to plug a laptop computer into the access control panel to make any changes. 

“Now Pastor Barb can make those changes from anywhere in the world. It’s a web-based application that she can use on her phone, tablet or computer,” he says 

An app on her phone or computer also allows Pastor Barb to issue a mobile pass for visitors or congregants who need access. “They don’t have a PIN code or physical card or fob they can lose or give to someone else,” he says. “She can issue them a limited-use mobile pass. Once it expires, the mobile pass will no longer work and cannot be used again.” 

Because fire codes require an egress option, Safe and Sound Security also installed a mag lock with a request-to-exit motion sensor on the front door. “You have to be able to offer free egress out of the building,” Palmquist says. “We put crash bars on the front door. If someone walks up to this door from the inside, the request-to-exit motion sensor will sense them and signal the door to open.”  

Building codes also mandate a backup egress method. This was accomplished with a push-to-exit button. “If the rest isn’t working, pressing this button will open the door,” he says. 

An Axis Communications video intercom system by the front door that looks a lot like a Ring security camera allows staff to give access to visitors who lack a PIN code. 

“The difference between this system and a Ring camera is that staff can press a button to unlock the door, which you can’t do with a Ring system,” Palmquist says. “Visitors press a call button and staff inside gets an alert, clicks to see a visitor view on their phone, and presses a button to open the door.”

Quality Testing & Service Needs

Safe and Sound Security conducts a 30-day burn-in period for every security system installation to test and fine-tune the system.

Within a week of installation, the church asked engineers to adjust the system’s virtual trip line. Every instance of school children walking by or someone crossing the parking lot triggered security alerts.

“We had to reconfigure the trip line area and adjust its sensitivity,” Palmquist says. 

Following these tests, Safe and Sound Security closely monitors the operational system, promptly addressing any issues or alerts to maintain optimal performance. This is achieved through a comprehensive service level agreement (SLA) that covers maintenance, according to Palmquist.

“The church opted to pay for an SLA, which offers them unlimited Help Desk and tech support, unlimited training and a bumper-to-bumper warranty, ” he says.

The SLA also includes firmware updates. “We push out firmware updates to keep everything secure and we constantly monitor system health,” he says. “We set alerts on every device, so if an access panel or a camera goes down, our engineers know immediately.”

The cloud-based system allows backend access to all devices for remote repairs, Palmquist adds

If there is no remote solution, the company dispatches technicians to fix the problem. “The technician will arrive with replacement parts,” Palmquist says. “If the device cannot be fixed, we will provide a replacement. We also dispatch technicians to clean and test systems annually.” 

However, the true measure of this project’s success goes beyond the technical aspects of hardware and software—it lies in the peace of mind it provides the entire congregation. With this system in place, Daring Faith can confidently pursue its mission, knowing its pastors, staff, and congregants are safe and secure.

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