Event Security 2.0: 10 Questions Event Planners Need To Ask Their Venues

The world is on high alert and security and safety of our attendees is a major concern. Here are 10 key topics every event planner should be discussing with their venues.

In today’s multi-billion dollar sports, events and entertainment industry, event security is the number one concern. From minor incidents to worldwide terrorist attacks, every event planner is uneasy and the landscape is ever-changing. Safeguarding today’s stadiums, venues and arenas requires a proactive mindset along with focused, concentrated efforts and checks. The significance of ongoing training, resources, and the integration of technology to improve safety within our event spaces cannot be ignored.

Here are 10 vital areas event planners need to discuss with their venues and the security team in advance of their event. Asking these questions can reduce the threats, challenges and vulnerabilities and ensure you prepare for and deliver the best duty of care to your guests.

Event Security 2.0: 10 Questions Event Planners Need To Ask Their Venues
  1. Training

Good training is the best way to prepare all staff for how to deal with different situations and to know what to look out for in the first place. A good venue will ensure that venue and security staff have regular training and also regularly test knowledge, skills and reactions in a variety of different tests and drills.

Questions to ask:
What specific training is given to your security staff?
What safety and security training have general venue staff received?
How recent was the training?
How are staff tested?
How often are they challenged? How often do they have tests and drills?
What efforts are you making to motivate your staff to be the best staff possible?

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  1. Exterior Perimeters

The safety of a venue doesn’t end at the front doors or the site boundary, vigilance is needed for a wider footprint of the area. Good venues will recognise this and have robust plans in place.

Questions to ask:
Are you paying close attention to exterior entry points?
Are there busy areas outside the perimeter?
Do you effectively utilize resources to monitor these, for example with bike patrols, CCTV, and contracted law enforcement personnel?

  1. Coordination of Efforts/First Responders

It is important that the venue and blue light services work closely together and that emergency services are well informed and familiar with the layout and specifics of the building and immediate area.

Questions to ask:
How often do you invite law enforcement, EMS (Emergency Medical Services), and fire department services to the venue?
Are they familiar with the physical attributes of the stadium/venues/arena they are entrusted to protect?

  1. Deployments

Security isn’t just about monitoring, checks and surveillance behind the scenes, a major part is engaging with fans during ingress, developing a rapport and treating people with dignity and respect, while earning their respect in return. The venues best communicators should be on the front line, having a visible presence and talking to people at the entry points.

Questions to ask:
Are you effectively utilizing “smart deployment” with your personnel?

  1. Drone Policy

Drones raise a number of security concerns. Every outdoor venue, stadium or arena should have a drone policy in place.

Questions to ask:
Do you have a Drone policy?
What is the procedure for dealing with Drones?
What steps will you take in the event you are confronted with a drone landing at the 50 yard line?

  1. Threat and Vulnerability Assessments

Venue owners have a responsibility to limit and manage threats and to do this they need to regularly assess, review and take steps to increase safety and security. Countermeasures can be identified and put in place to lower the levels of risk and avoid areas of weakness.

Questions to ask:
How often do you conduct a thorough top to bottom view of your stadium/venue/arena?
Can you give some examples of measures and upgrades that have been put in place as a result of an assessment?

  1. Person and Bag Checks and Searches

Many venues have technology in place for security checks of bags and individuals, similar to technology used at airport security. Other venues do manual bag checks and pat down individuals.  

Questions to ask:
What is the procedure in terms of bag checks?
Are airport style scanners available to check baggage?
What is the procedure in terms of person checks/searches of people?
Are the checks for everyone? Or done at random?
What are you checking for?

  1. Alcohol and Beverage Control Program

Alcohol related incidents are common at venues licensed to serve alcohol so putting a policy in place is wise. Measures often include limiting the amount of drinks purchased in a single transaction, ID checks and only serving alcohol in certain areas to reduce harm and incidents.

Questions to ask:
Do you have an alcohol and beverage control program in place?
What training is given to staff?
Are knowledgeable staff available to identify intoxicated patrons in the space?

  1. Active Shooter and Workplace Violence Situations

Terrorist attacks and active shooters are on the increase and being prepared for such a situation could save many lives.

Questions to ask:
Have you prepared your staff for what to do in an active shooter situation?
As event planners what do we need to know?
In such a situation how would the event team, venue and security work together? What are the responsibilities of each?

10. Crowd Control

Understanding and monitoring the movement and density of the crowds will enable you to be proactive if you need to be before any situations of overcrowding arise.  

Questions to ask:
How do you space patrons entering the stadium or venue?
How do you monitor and control crowd density?
How are you doing your best to prevent bottlenecks and choke points from forming?

In Conclusion

Safety is the number one priority for event planners and the world of event security is ever changing. Managing the ebb and flow of crowd control, dynamics and demographics in this space takes effort. By taking the time to contemplate, educate ourselves, research, and share best practices with one another we can ensure that our venues and events are safer. Asking questions concerning these 10 key areas are a great starting point to discuss with your venue the measures, checks and procedures in place for managing safety and security effectively at your event.

About The Author
James A. DeMeo
James A. DeMeo, M.S, has over 25 years of law enforcement, security and consulting experience and is considered an Expert in Sports Security. James has made numerous presentations to Colleges and Universities throughout the U.S and is a contributing author to: Security Supervision and Management - Theory and Practice of Asset Protection, 4th Edition (Chapter 12 - Supervising During Special Events). 
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