On event days, representatives of emergency response & security agenciesare together and running sports venues as a unified group In the world of sports security, alliances are bringing together personnel and agencies that once only talked to each other during an emergency. Consider the recently announced agreement between the Security Industry Association (SIA) and the National Center for Spectator Sports Safety and Security (NCS4). This memorandum of understanding (MOU) is designed to foster collaboration in addressing the unique security challenges facing stadiums and other sports venues and how best to use security technologies to up the security ante. SIA and NCS4 stadium security partnership “SIA being the leading trade association for electronic and physical security solution providers gives NCS4 the capability to collaborate on identifying current and new products and services that address the future industry needs,” says NCS4 Director Lou Marciani. NCS4 has developed best practices and training programmes including certifications for sports security professionals. As venues have begun installing cameras and made increasing use of metal detectors to screen fans as they enter the ball park, this new deal will help ensure that security directors are installing the right kinds of equipment for their sport. As part of the agreement, the two organisations plan to develop a series of quarterly webinars, create presentations, speak at each other’s events, promote each other’s activities and programmes, publish articles in each other’s publications, and eventually develop joint vendor-neutral guidelines and best practices for stadium events. This alliance is just the latest step in the sports security’s profession move toward creating even greater collaboration. The National Incident Management System (NIMS) provides a standardised approachfor security personnel & emergency responders at mass gatherings Emergency personnel planning for incident management “I would have to say that [collaboration] has become the operating norm,” says Paul Turner, Director of Event Operations & Security for AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas, home of the Dallas Cowboys. “Whereas in previous days a venue would have some police and some fire personnel and medical personnel assigned to that venue and they would just be like another resource that would be onsite. Now the intent is for everyone to do integrated planning where you have a group together of police, fire, medical stadium operations even federal agencies that are all part of building your event plan and then you’re doing unified command.” In this new era, on event days, representatives of all these agencies are together and running the venue as a unified group. Gone are the days when a venue operator would call for help after an incident occurred. “We’re operating in a regular mode and if an incident presents itself then we’re commanding that incident,” says Turner. “It’s not like you have to bring a whole bunch of people together to deal with a particular incident because you’ve been running that event.” The development of the National Incident Management System (NIMS) provided security personnel at venues with a standardised approach to incident management. Developed by the Department of Homeland Security, the programme facilitates coordination between all responders including all levels of government with public, private, and nongovernmental organisations. “More and more mass gatherings are being managed under that kind of a structure,” says Turner.
Sports stadiums and leagues are constantly pushing for higher security standards& best practices to strengthen venues that may be perceived as "soft targets" Terrorism threats have focused the attention of sports security professionals like Paul Turner, Director of Event Operations & Security for AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas, on how to more effectively screen guests and ensure that fans and athletes are kept safe. It has made the sobering reality that stadiums are “soft targets” a part of their daily approach to doing business. Everything changed on 9/11. Transformed as much as anything else by the terrorist attacks has been security for sports venues. “9/11 was a huge catalyst for a lot of things when it comes to securing public places, especially sporting venues,” says Paul Turner. “A lot of what we’re doing today was put in motion when 9/11 happened.” Intelligence through close communications One of the most dramatic changes in stadium security has come through close communications between agencies at every level including new access to intelligence gathering. “One of the big things has been communications,” says Dr. Lou Marciani, executive director of the National Center for Spectator Sports Safety and Security (NCS4). “The different law enforcement agencies, emergency managers, event people are all communicating together. Intelligence was the next improvement. So we’re on the cutting edge of situational awareness.” High security standards At AT&T Stadium, where the NFL Dallas Cowboys play, security is guided by standards created by the National Football League. These standards and practices are mandatory for all NFL venues and run the gamut of daily operations all the way through event-day operations for games. “We’re all being held to those standards,” says Turner. “Then the league put in place an auditing mechanism where they come and evaluate each venue each year and they give you a score on how you are performing based on those standards.” The National Basketball Association and the National Hockey Association have created similar rules for their own venues. Guards and metal detectors at stadium entrances These security procedures have changed the way fans enter the stadium. Security officials now use hand-held security wands at gates and limit the size and type of bags that can be brought in. Last summer, the NFL added full walk-through metal detectors to its list of "best practices" for stadium security. Next year all 31 stadiums across the country must install them at entry points. Some venues, including Lambeau Field and MetLife Stadium, are using them now at certain gates. Entry points to a stadium may be secured by walk-through metal detectors, staffwith security wands, guards and sniffer dogs When terrorists struck in Paris a few months ago, they also attacked a soccer stadium where a match was taking place. Observant security personnel stopped the attackers from entering the stadium and, in the process, saved lives. That event prompted stadiums across America to up security with more guards and even bomb sniffing dogs. Balancing sports security with guest experience Each time security is increased, professionals are faced with an old problem – how do you keep the stadium safe without creating unacceptable obstacles to getting people into the venue? “You want to make sure you have adequate resources so that you can consistently deliver the level of security,” says Turner. “It’s trying to balance security with the guest experience. It’s making sure that you can conduct that search consistently, but you’re not having excessive wait times of your guests and they’re getting frustrated with the time it takes for you to do that screening.” The need to keep lines moving without missing a potential threat requires the right number of trained personnel and entry points that are designed to accommodate the movement of crowds. There also must be sufficient personnel inside the venue itself to respond to fan concerns, according to Turner. Retrofitting older stadiums and extending security perimeters While newer stadiums such as the one being built by the Atlanta Falcons are incorporating security into their design, older venues have been compelled to retrofit their facilities. “It’s making sure you’ve got equipment inside the building whether it be cameras or other access control equipment,” said Turner. “It’s ensuring you’ve got a good view and good control of the exterior of the building as well. It’s also trying to design for entries and other access ways that are going to provide the appropriate footprint to do patron screening and to make sure you can set those areas up correctly. It is always a challenge, but you’re seeing a lot more attention being paid to newer venues because we all know it’s something we have to do.” In recent years, stadiums have realised they need to extend their field of view and security outside the venue itself and into the parking lots around the stadium. “So if you’ve got gathering areas outside your building such as for tailgating and parking lots or areas where people are going to gather for queuing to get into the building, we’re considering that as also being under our protective umbrella,” says Turner. “We’re paying a lot more attention to how we manage those resources that we put out to help provide for safety and security in those kind of extended perimeters.” Security procedures such as bag checks are designed to infringe on the guestexperience as little as possible, but to be thorough and consistent SAFETY Act certification Hosting large numbers of people in one place has also increased the financial risks for stadiums and sports league even with greatly increased levels of security. Now an increasing number of organisations and venues are seeking certification through the Support Anti-terrorism by Fostering Effective Technologies Act of 2002 (SAFETY Act). Bestowing liability protections for providers of certain anti-terrorism technologies, the SAFETY Act provides incentives for the development and deployment of these technologies by creating a system of risk and litigation management. “On the one hand it’s looking at the how and what you do and how effective that is, and on the other end it’s actually capping your liability costs,” says Richard Fenton, Vice President of Corporate Security at Ilitch Holdings Inc., which includes the NHL’s Detroit Red Wings and MLB’s Detroit Tigers. “If you get certification you get all of the benefits of designation, but you also get to exercise the government contractor defence and in essence there is a presumption of immunity because you’ve been thoroughly vetted by the Safety Act office.” The NFL was the first sports league to submit its best practices and security protocols to Homeland Security and be awarded SAFETY Act certification. By granting the certification to the NFL, venues can acquire and lose it on daily basis. “When the Detroit Lions are playing a football game, they are covered by that certification,” notes Fenton. “The next night when they’re doing a Taylor Swift concert and they have the same security protocols and systems and technology and very same staff that’s been trained the same way, they’re not covered.” Rising opportunity for security companies The elevated need for security has also created new opportunities for security companies. “There are expectations for a higher level of performance and professionalism,” says Jeff Spoerndle, Vice President of Whelan Event Services. “Our organisation has been doing special event security since the 1970s, but we did a major expansion into the marketplace in 2009. At that time, we saw there was really a weakness in the marketplace for somebody who was a professional providers of services.” These days Whelan is providing personnel who are able to handle all aspects of stadium security from ticket taking to the operation of cameras and metal detectors.
NCS4’s research has mainly been on professional sports venues, but they alsodevelop best practices for all levels of sports – including high schools and colleges Some of the most profound changes in the way sporting events are secured have come about since the terrorist attacks on Sept. 11, 2001. A realisation that stadiums could be a target for terrorists has transformed sports security into a highly sophisticated profession that works closely with local and national law enforcement and intelligence agencies. National Center for Spectator Sports Safety and Security One of the leaders in developing this new kind of sports security has been the National Center for Spectator Sports Safety and Security (NCS4) at the University of Southern Mississippi in Hattiesburg, Mississippi. It was founded by a team of sports security veterans to support the advancement of sport safety and security through training, professional development, academic programmes and research. “It’s not that we didn’t have security before 9/11, but things changed quite a bit as far as our approach to the mitigation of risk,” says NCS4 director Louis Marciani. “One thing that happened was a lot more money from Homeland Security was fed to the industry for training in incident management, risk management, evacuation and other areas. So that’s what we do. We help those stadiums and arenas improve their collaboration, their planning, their responses to incidents.” Security training & research for sports venues Following the creation of the Department of Homeland Security by President Bush in 2002, Marciani and other faculty at Southern Mississippi began doing sports security research in 2004; in 2006, it became a full-fledged centre geared to supporting the security industry through research, academic programmes and certification training. Security and sports professional attend the NCS4 Summit for training in incident management, risk management, evacuation and other areas The institute has taken a wide-ranging approach to security for sports. While most attention has been directed to professional sports venues, NCS4 has helped develop best practices geared to every level of sports – right down to high schools and colleges. It has also focused on how technology can be integrated with personnel to create a truly safe experience for both fans and athletes alike. Collaboration between academics and the field for venue security “What NCS4 has given the industry is an institution-based unit that can look directly at this issue and marshal the resources of a university with their researchers and their academicians,” explains Paul Turner, Director of Event Operations & Security for AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas, home of the Dallas Cowboys. “They’ve also engaged practitioners like me to be a part of that process. So what you get is the people who actually have to do the work and the people who have the time and resources to study that work as well.” That collaboration between academics and the field has led to the creation of best practices manuals and training programmes geared specifically to the needs of venue security. “They also have the capability to put resources towards things that would likely never get attention such as sports security planning for high school events,” adds Turner. Response to Boston Marathon bombing As threats have evolved, so has NCS4’s approach. Following the Boston Marathon bombing, the institute convened a group of race operators to develop best practices for running events. This required a new approach that extended security along a lengthy race course crowded with people. The need to look beyond the narrow spaces in which an event is occurring has now changed security in other sports and venues. “It made us think about extending the areas of protection outside of our venues,” says Turner. “Prior to the Boston Marathon bombing, most of us were concerned about screening of guests when they entered our venue. Well now we’ve extended that perimeter and we’re really concerned about anybody and anything that might pose a threat to the venue exterior as well.” Following the Boston Marathon bombing, NCS4 developed new security bestpractices for running events to extend the area of protection Support from university and professional sports leagues As the field has grown, NCS4 has even developed an academic concentration. Designed for sports professionals, the Masters of Business Administration with an emphasis in Sport Security Management is the only programme of its kind in the United States Southern Mississippi became the home for NCS4 as much by circumstance as design. Marciani had newly arrived at the University after a long career in sports management. He had been athletic director at several universities and had worked with the United States Olympic Committee. “I came back to teach at Southern Mississippi, and another faculty member asked me to take a look at researching stadium security,” says Marciani. “So we started, and one thing led to another with grants from Homeland Security to look at risk modeling, to look at evacuations and it just kept going.” As he and other faculty members combined their experiences, the new institute reached out to the professional sports leagues for buy-in. An advisory board made up of the NFL, Major League Baseball, the National Basketball Association and pro soccer was formed. “And it took one or two meetings for them to understand we could have access to a university that will give us new knowledge, give us training, give us certifications,” he recalls. “They were very receptive to a University that would support them.” Over the years, sports security has been able to adopt a common language and one standardised methodology. That has driven the industry and venue safety to a new level. Throughout this process, NCS4 has provided the knowledge and training that has built a new kind of profession.
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