There has been a lot of legislative activity in Austin the last few months. As you are well aware, Hedge Protection Ministries has been a very active supporter of the Church Security Protection Act as authored by Representative Matt Rinaldi. That legislation will have a significant impact on the ministries of every single house of worship in Texas. I am proud to announce a major victory for Religious Liberty. Although spiritual warfare played an important part in killing the original piece of legislation, HB 421, Representative Rinaldi was successful in adding the very same language as an amendment to Senate Bill 2065. This bill, which exempts volunteer church security teams from government oversight, was passed by both the house and the Senate and recently signed into law by Gov Abbot.
Effective Sep 1st, 2017, this law will amend the Texas Occupations Code, exempting Volunteer Church Security teams and their members from the Texas Occupations Code. Ultimately, it allows church members to provide security services on a volunteer basis at their own place of worship. I am proud to announce that every Church in Texas will now have the flexibility to determine for themselves how to best protect their services and facilities.
So How does this new Law affect you and your church… Well, first of all, thousands of churches had already established volunteer church security ministries and had no idea they were violating the law. Unbeknownst to most every one of these churches, their efforts to secure their service had potentially exposed the church itself and each member to tens of thousands of dollars in fines. This exposure to financial jeopardy was exactly why Representative Matt Rinaldi offered this legislation.
So what exactly is the benefit to the Churches… well, churches will no longer be required to be licensed as a Security Company, nor will they need to apply for a Private Letter of Authority which is essentially the same process as becoming a licensed security company. They will no longer be required to purchase a separate and special insurance policy specifically covering their security services. They will no longer be required to hire a Security Manager and they will no longer be subject to the oversight of DPS. This means… No audits, no government investigations, no potential for civil or criminal prosecution, no administrative fees, and no fines can be levied against your church. Basically, DPS will no longer have any authority over your volunteer security ministry. Your church is exempt from the code and everything that comes with it!
As an individual church member serving on the team, you’re in a much better position as well. You are no longer required to become a licensed security officer. You will no longer be mandated to undergo security guard training. No need for fingerprints nor an FBI background checks, no mandatory annual recurring training, and no annual fees. Lastly, you are not longer subject to potential fines nor criminal prosecutions for violating the overarching regulations of the Occupations Code. You are only governed specifically by Chapter 17 Section 333. This section lays out a couple of very important stipulations that must be adhered to. First of all, the law only applies to Volunteer Church Members who are willing to provide security services without compensation. Second… a member may not wear a uniform or badge that: contains the word security or gives the person the appearance of being a peace officer, personal protection officer, or security officer. That’s it, nothing else. Follow those two rules and you will be golden!
OK… Let’s talk about how this law affects a church member who possesses a License to Carry (LTC) a weapon. A member with an LTC may carry a weapon while participating in this ministry provided it is not prohibited by the church itself. To Prohibit a member with an LTC from carrying in the church, the church must give proper notification under the penal code, specifically section 30.06 or section 30.07. However, it should be noted that almost every jurisdiction in Texas does not recognize the simple posting of 30.06 and 30.07 placards as effective notice, If you have questions, we would strongly suggest you reach out to your local district attorney and receive their interpretation of the sixth amendment to Senate Bill 2065.
Additionally, Honorably Retired police officers can now carry while providing security services at their church. These peace officers are now exempt from the occupations code in reference to working as a volunteer church security team member and are free to carry in accordance with both State and Federal law.
Y’all this change is a pretty big deal. Getting good legislation passed and bad legislation killed in Austin is no small feat. There are a few people who worked their tails off in Austin keeping this bill in the forefront of these legislators minds. We owe them a huge debt of gratitude. I want to personally thank Dana Hodges who is the President of Concerned Women of America from Texas. Dana worked tirelessly in this battle and trust me it was a battle. I want to also thank Jimmy Meeks and Carl Chinn. These two men have worked tirelessly for the last several years raising awareness of violence in churches across America. Both these men brought tremendous credibility, insight, and experience to this matter. Both came to Austin with us to testify before the house and encourage legislators to support this bill. Tracey Bradford of Texas Eagles Forum and Cindy Ausmusen from Southern Baptist Association also played key roles in pushing for this legislation.
In closing, just because the government cannot force your church to conduct their training, does not mean that your team won’t need training. Hedge Protection Ministries has put together a Biblically based security ministry training program. Our program is biblically based, focussed on deterrence all while maintaining the delicate balance between security and evangelism. If your church needs assistance with your Security Ministry, we would love to help you. Feel free to contact us at Hedge Protection Ministries. Our web address is simply… https://www.securemychurchnow.com.
VOLUNTEER SECURITY SERVICES
Subchapter N, Chapter 1702, Occupations Code, is amended by adding Section 1702.333 to read as follows:
Sec. 1702.333. PLACE OF RELIGIOUS WORSHIP; CERTAIN VOLUNTEERS.
(a) In this section, “volunteer security services” means services or activities that are:
(1) regulated under this chapter; and
(2) provided without compensation or remuneration.
(b) This chapter does not apply to a person who is providing volunteer security services on the premises of a church, synagogue, or other established place of religious worship.
(c) While providing volunteer security services under Subsection (b), a person may not wear a uniform or badge that:
(1) contains the word “security”; or
(2) gives the person the appearance of being a peace officer, personal protection officer, or security officer.