Special Event Security Planning
The risks associated with large public or private events that are often considered “Soft Targets,” may be the preferred venue for those bent on making a statement or furthering their cause with an act of terrorism. Terrorism is defined as “the unlawful use of force and violence against persons or property to intimidate or coerce a government, the civilian population, or any segment thereof, in furtherance of political or social objectives” (28 C.F.R. Section 0.85).
There are people out there looking to kill some people, sometimes for no particular reason, and not always associated with a related criminal act such as an armed robbery. Our world is changing, and the number of groups being formed, albeit not always formally, is increasing.
If a group is planning a large event where they are expecting a large number of people and vehicles, the organizers should look at any and all associated risks, as well as emergency planning, security, crowd control, and many other concerns. The more people that may be present, and the softer the target, the higher the risks are. If you add in the fact that VIPs will be present and the media is covering the event, your risks are even higher.
Our government and law enforcement agencies are doing a great job of identifying potential risks, but the recent mass shootings indicate that the unorganized person(s) bent on destruction are much harder to prevent.
Security Mitigation Plan
There are steps that an organization or group can take to reduce their risks, and they would include:
- A formal security plan addressing crowd control, traffic flow plans (both pedestrian and vehicle)
- Security personnel present that know any potential threats and how to deal with them
- Trained personnel present that can observe any potential security threats or risks that arise, and watching for the person(s) that is out of place
- In some cases there will need to be a law enforcement presence
- Coordination between the event organizers and emergency services
- For large events with hundreds or thousands of people in attendance you may need to compartmentalize the crowd so that emergency services personnel can move through the crowd in a hurry
These are just a few of the steps that an organizer may need to take, as there is no one plan that addresses all events and/or threats. You must conduct a threat assessment first and from there build your plan to insure that you have the best possible plan in place.
Security Soft Target
The average home, business, and educational setting is considered a “Soft Target” which just means that they are not prepared for any terrorist attack and are often not defended more than standard locks. In most cases residential and business properties are not protected by security systems other than alarms, and those are only a form of technology that identifies that something is happening now, verses preventing such acts.
So now that that baseline information is spelled out, and definitions have been identified, what can you and your business do to reduce your risks? There are several steps that can be done. Basically it comes down to Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design (CPTED). You can make changes to your environment to reduce the risks, such as proper lighting, security staffing, vulnerability identification, and so on.
Just do not believe that it cannot happen to your organization. There are many business owners and government officials that thought that they were immune from such an adverse event, only to find out that they were wrong.