Leadership / 11.21.17
After Mass Shootings and Terrorist Attacks, What Can We Do to Keep Event-Goers Safe?
More than two months after the shooting on the Route 91 Harvest Music Festival in Las Vegas, venues around the world continue to reassess their security procedures and quickly implement new measures to prevent future attacks.
Although the Las Vegas attack was unique in that it took place at an outdoor event and from a location beyond the scope of the concert’s security personnel, other recent attacks, such as the Ariana Grande concert last May in Manchester, England, have heightened the scrutiny on security procedures not only for concerts but for all types of events.
“Now, I think you have a lot of organizations that are dusting off their plans, reconnecting, reorganizing themselves, so they can factor in their interior and exterior security, as a result of what happened in Vegas,” said security expert Rob Weinhold shortly after the Las Vegas shooting. “This kind of event will shape the thinking of local law enforcement to make sure that they’re considering the exterior of event venues, so they can provide the kind of safety and security that they would like.”
Some steps venues are taking to increase security include widening the security checkpoint perimeters around events, installing obstacles such as metal barricades around areas where people gather before events, improving the overall lighting and installing more technologically advanced security cameras. David Yorio, managing director of Citadel Security Agency, predicts security screenings at major sporting and concert venues eventually will start resembling the security procedures at airports and could include the use of bomb-sniffing dogs.
“I was at the Katy Perry show last week and on the catering table was a laminated piece of paper [explaining] what to do if there’s an active shooter,” said Mitch Rose, co-head of contemporary music for North America, CAA. “This is the world we’re now living in. It’s really sobering. You’re going to see dogs at every show, you’re going to see metal detectors at every show.”
However, Yorio noted the amount of security procedures put in place still needs to take into account the expectations of attendees. “We could check every single person and bag as they do at an airport, but the show may not start on time or people may not get in at time,” Yorio says. He also noted enhanced security is more costly, so venues and organizers could create security procedures like TSA pre-check, enabling attendees to pay extra to avoid long security lines.
Another key aspect to boosting security at events is working with local, state and federal law enforcement. “When you have a special event of any size and magnitude, you ultimately have responsibility of that core part, but when you look outside the event area, that's a challenging dynamic,” said Jeff Curtis, CEO of the Portland Rose Festival Foundation in a recent interview. “That's where coordination with law enforcement comes to play.”
The New York Police Department recently announced new security measures for all events in the city, including establishing heavily-armed police units that will patrol Madison Square Garden and the Barclays Center during Knicks, Rangers, Nets and Islanders games, as well as other events. The New York Post reported that there will be about 12 officers on duty for each event.
Meanwhile, teams from the NFL, MLB and NBA are working with the Department of Homeland Security’s office for the SAFETY Act to improve the security at their stadiums and venues. The SAFETY Act program assists venue owners and operators with technology integration, command-and-control procedures and best practices for their venues.
However, despite the urgency to review security procedures and implement the latest best practices, experts also say the ticket buyer shouldn’t feel under siege.
“Venues want to make the experience enjoyable for the guests and having a heavy police presence and seeing a lot of weapons and armor are not something fans want, but they want to feel safe, and finding that line is essential,” said David McCain, head of security services for the NFL in Venues Today. “We want them to feel confident but not cognizant.”
McCain suggests surveying fans following the event to see if they thought the level of security was appropriate.
Another way to enhance security while also not overwhelming ticket buyers is to engage them in the security process, noted Prevent Advisors executive chairman Bill Brattan. He suggests encouraging attendees to use their phones to notify security if they see anything suspicious. “With most fans having a phone in their hand, they have the tool to reach out immediately if they see something they think is not right,” Brattan said. “We need to encourage the fans to be our security partners.”
All of these efforts to boost venue security make it clear that just as the 9/11 terrorist attacks forever changed the way people access airports, the recent attacks in Las Vegas and Manchester have forever changed the way venues approach security and how ticket buyers will attend events. It’s a sad situation that anything has to change at all, but as leaders in the ticketing industry, we must ensure safety for all event-goers as much as possible moving forward.
Do your teams know what to do if confronted with a threat to themselves, your audience or venue? Attend the session "Run, Hide, Fight: Preparing for and Reacting to an Active Shooter Incident" led by Bryan Gray, protective security advisor for the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, at the INTIX 40th Annual Conference in Texas on Jan. 29-31, 2019.
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