Give back, get back

Advanced Communication builds a new vertical out of church arsons
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Friday, February 26, 2010

TYLER, Texas—Here in east Texas, some 11 churches have been victims of arson in the past year. This week, police arrested Jason Robert Bourque, 19, and Daniel George McAllister, 21, and charged them with setting fire to Dover Baptist Church, based in nearby Winona, and there is a hope they are behind many of the other fires and that this spate of arsons will abate.

A few local churches were already feeling some comfort, however, thanks to Advanced Communication Services, which has developed a program whereby churches can evaluate an IP-based video surveillance system for 90 days, see if it’s something their congregations appreciate and value, and then either return the system or purchase it for the long term. The program offered some protection for frightened congregations in the short term, said ACS president Randy Gann, and let them keep a more sophisticated security system in place should they want one going forward.

“It was an extreme risk on our part,” he said of having to finance the installations, “but it was something we wanted to offer the churches to put something in place to catch or deter the culprits.”

“It worked out great,” Gann said of the effort. “We’ve installed more than a dozen churches, all with this same deal. It’s certainly opened up a new vertical for us.”

He said it’s also breaking down stereotypes about video surveillance systems. “It used to be that if you had video cameras, you were a drug dealer or something,” Gann said. “That’s gone by the wayside. People are getting benefit out of it as a deterrent and interest is increasing.”

ACS is an eight-person firm with roots in telecommunications, based here in Tyler. The company got its security license for the state of Texas two years ago and expanded the business, Gann said, to add surveillance as an added service to telecom customers.