Feature Article - August 2019
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Serve & Protect

Crowd Control & Security Strategies

By Dave Ramont

As far as new technologies, McCormack said radar detection technology is becoming an added security feature at many venues, augmenting network surveillance cameras for another layer of protection. "It allows systems to provide a unique coverage in areas that can be dark or difficult to monitor."

DeMeo said technology integration plays a pivotal role in fan safety initiatives. "Biometrics, fast pass lanes, robotics, license plate readers, access control, credentialing, drone technology, command center controls—the list goes on and on."

Deputy Chief Robert Grossaint, with the Denver Public Schools Department of Safety, said they now have a greater situational awareness and a focus on layers of security, with an emphasis on perimeter security. "We realize that threats have changed, and we've changed with them. We strive to be proactive rather than reactive. We're also thinking ahead and preparing for those high consequence/low probability events that we've seen in other places involving large gathered crowds."

Grossaint said they institute a robust training program, which includes defensive tactics, arrest and control, officers' safety and situational awareness. "We also ensure that our officers have trainings such as Crisis Intervention, Advanced First Aid, Management of Aggressive Behavior, diversity training and implicit bias training. Our personnel also carry tourniquets and trauma kits in the event of an incident that requires such equipment."

"We have a police level dispatch center/security command center that has the ability to lockdown or lockout facilities from a central location," explained Grossaint, adding that they utilize cameras and access control at many of their venues. He also said they leverage community resources, following the "See Something, Say Something" campaign initiated by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS).

Hall said this campaign is prevalent throughout all pro sports and most college sports organizations, as are fan text systems, where fans can report bad or suspicious behavior. "To my knowledge, they're being used by fans, and it's providing good analytics to venue managers as they can use this data to determine areas experiencing persistent problems." Hall added that monitoring social media posts can also yield information on potential security threats.

DeMeo said this technology must be used responsibly. "Monitoring what's being posted online, in real time, any threats, must be properly vetted. In a security world, everything is the real thing until proven otherwise."

Kulik said their Public Safety Department uses media monitoring software to gauge any social media threats.

In Denver, Grossaint said they consistently meet with other entities through the Colorado Association of School Security and Law Enforcement Officials (CASSLEO) to vet best practices and strategies. He feels it's imperative for venues to partner with local law enforcement.

In fact, all our contributors stressed the importance of collaborating with local agencies on training and planning. Conducting tabletop or functional exercises allows the team to determine gaps in their emergency response and recovery plans prior to an incident and helps individuals understand their roles and responsibilities, according to Hall. "The multi-agency team that meets and plans before events normally includes the facility manager, campus police, law enforcement, emergency management, fire/hazmat and PR rep."

Kulik said their Public Safety Department at WMU partners with the City of Kalamazoo, Kalamazoo Township, Kalamazoo County and Michigan State Police. "They do a great job making sure all the different agencies are on the same page."

DeMeo agrees that information sharing, intelligence gathering and analysis with law enforcement partners is critical. "Skimping on security, cutting corners—security theater, if you will—is a short-sighted view based on all the challenges we're seeing in the world today." And while he's encouraged about steps being taken these days, he thinks there's definitely room for improvement. "It comes down to investing dollars in the right places. Training is crucial. Duty of care exists for providing a safe and secure environment for players, fans, contractors—everybody inside the space."