If you believe the assassination of President John F. Kennedy marked the end of the innocence for America, you might agree that 9/11 was the single most decisive and final, crippling blow to American freedom and innocence. Public transportation, public events, sporting events, corporate headquarters/events and shopping malls, to name a few, are familiar places and traditional ways of life for us. – to the terrorist element they are targets. Take heart though, the innocence lives in the form of the great American spirit, our desire to live in a free society and our ability to adapt and secure ourselves.
In the immediate aftermath of 9/11, event security was impressive and airtight, especially when share this site the President attends an event like the World Series. Both President Bush and Obama have done that. There were megatrometers, all 55,000 guests were frisked, bags were prohibited, bomb sniffing dogs, snipers, NBC (Nuclear, Bio and Chemical) detection equipment, fighter jets and air flight restrictions. This was serious.
Security of this magnitude while extremely effective is not generally an option for the typical event planner. It is cost prohibitive and in most cases it is overkill. But we do need to change our mindset and approach towards event security.
Prior to 9/11, security for many events was not a major consideration for the event management. Typically, security was there to create the proverbial “presence.” I can not begin to tell you how many event planners just ask for a “presence” when they ask for security. Security focused on crowd control and flow patters, excluding unauthorized guests (gatecrashers), the guest with one to many, and asset and executive/VIP protection. While these are all still part of event security, the rules have changed and we must adjust our game plan accordingly.
There are four broad areas that you must consider and implement when planning your next event: Professional Security Management; Threat Assessment; Security Objective and Plan and Post Event Assessment and Critique.
First things first, your event security company must be licensed, insured and bonded. Most states have licensing requirements for security firms. In New York for example, security firms are licensed by the NYS Department of State. In order to obtain a security license, you must submit insurance and bonding documentation, pass a written exam and background check and meet several experience requirements. Many event firms never check the credentials of the security firm they hire. There are several qualified firms in the security industry – make sure you hire one!
Another situation to be aware of is the “off duty police officer.” Law enforcement security officers, both active and retired, provide superior security services. What you need to know is are they working for a licensed firm or are they working as freelance security. Generally speaking, a municipality will not cover or indemnify off duty officers engaged in secondary employment. For those engaged in employment with a licensed firm they will be covered by that firm’s insurance policy, whereas those engaged as freelance will be covered by your insurance, which may not cover such items as false arrest, libel, slander, use of force, etc. It is also a good idea to make sure that your security vendor carries a terrorist rider on his general liability insurance policy.
Once your security vendor meets all of the licensing and business infrastructure requirements, consider if they have the experience, training and qualifications to run a security firm. Do they have a proven track subway surfers cheats may 2015 record in the security or law enforcement community? The American Society Industrial Security is a good source to find qualified security professionals and organizations.
You should be confident that your security firm has the qualifications and experience to intervene on your behalf in the event of a security crisis. Moreover, the organization/person that you chose should have the qualifications and experience to explain and defend your event security protocol to senior level management and local law enforcement should security issues arise. In short, when people start pointing fingers, have some back-up in the form of a security professional.
Threat assessment is the function of determining the security and safety risks associated with a particular location, person or event. From a security perspective, this is the most critical assessment of your event, as it will determine your security deployment and protocol. While there are several varying factors to consider for every event and, every since event is unique, let’s cover the basics here and you can get more in depth with your security professional.
A good place to start is the venue itself. Is there a historical, political or cultural significance associated with the event location? Certain location will always require additional security based solely on the virtue of the location. For example, a smaller event in New York associated with the United Nations may require a complex security program when compared to a larger event in the Chicago’s Field House Museum. There are a multitude of factors to consider when making assessments of this nature. At the very minimum, consider the history and significance of corporate sponsorship, the event theme, the extent of event advertising and exposure, public or private tickets to the general public or invite only. Not to overlook public officials, dignitaries of state and celebrities.
The good news is that for extremely high risk events, you will have plenty of help in the form of the various local and federal law enforcement agencies. Now for the bad news, probably 90% of event is security is left to the event management firm with no law enforcement presence. To a certain extent, and more so now based on recent events, it is the event company’s responsibility to provide security. We cannot understate the value of a security professional and a proper threat assessment to serve as the foundation for your Security Objective and Plan.
With the right team and assessment you can now identify objectives and develop a security plan and protocol. From my selfish perspective, security is the most important and only concern for the event. However, I realize that if special events were turned into security marathons, they would not be special. It is a good idea to communicate. I always ask the event planner that I work with for two lists of five. I want to know you’re your five most important security expectations and five worst security nightmares. Then I compare your list with my security objectives and finalize our event security objectives.
They key is to develop the right plan and security deployment to provide the needed level of security for each event. There are always the traditional issues with respect to explosive detection dogs, metal detectors, guard placement, uniform or business attire, undercover security, frisks and searches, radios, etc. But I think we need to be more creative and diligent in other non traditional areas.
For instance, we need to look closely at all vendors and their level of access. Do we have the names and addresses of all vendors associated with this event, what is there level of access to information and has anybody checked them out in terms of background information? Typically security arrives one hour before the event while other vendors and related staff have free access to your event. It would be wise to bring security in early to observe event set up and challenge visitors during the set up stage – where it would be easy to plant or hide an explosive device.
Ticketing and identification are another key component of security. By requiring identification for all guests and issuing some sort of unique identification article (wristband, stamp, etc.), you have reduced your security risks. Another idea is to limit ticket sales to credit cards only and require additional identification at time of purchase. The key here is to develop objectives and a security plan that is consistent with the threat associated with your event. People waited over an hour to be scanned with a metal detector and searched before entering last year’s Super Bowl. There were no complaints because it was reasonable and necessary given the security threat. However, people might be upset if the same security practices were adopted for a dog show in the same venue. It is all about identifying the level of threat and then developing and implementing the right security plan.
Security must constantly be tested, probed and evaluated to remain effective. In terms of event security, the best time to do this is one week after the event. Both security and event management should hold a meeting to critique event security. Consider what worked, where we can improve and where we need to change our plan.
As we move further away from 9/11 it will become easier to overlook event security – but it will never subway surfers hack no survey be easy to explain a tragedy. Security counts – keep it up America the world is watching!
Copyright (c) 2012 Joe Cleary