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Essential Security Considerations for Special Event Planners

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A critical step in the event planning process is to evaluate and prepare for potential security incidents. Event coordinators are skilled in taking every detail into consideration, with one exception–security.

Often emergency situations are left out of the planning process. Security is a necessity that no one should ever overlook. Oftentimes event management professionals put the emphasis on the decor, food, lighting, speakers, and visual details. However, overall security and safety are often a subject of disregard.

The number of active shooter events is increasing. One of the trends I have seen on the rise is that event professionals are starting to take security at their events more seriously. They are proactively planning to ensure the safety of their guests and reputation.

When working with event professionals, I emphasize the importance that each step of the planning process includes security as a consideration. From start to finish, from set-up to tear-down, plan ahead for emergency situations.

The Importance of a Security Mindset

Keep event staff employees and volunteers briefed, aware, and prepared to handle security situations that might arise. It is imperative that all staff adopt a security mindset to ensure event safety and crowd management. A security mindset involves thinking about a potential security breach and being prepared to respond effectively. Having a security mindset heightens overall awareness of a situation and how you might respond.

Gather the “who,” “what,” “when,” “where”,  “why” and “how” for your events in the early planning stages. That way you can coordinate with your security team and be certain all areas are being managed for the highest possible degree of safety.

Simple steps for planning a secure event.

Who: Take consideration for all people at the event.

·        Who will be in attendance?

·        Who will be speaking?

·        Who will be performing?

What: Evaluate the topic or focus of the event. 

·        Is the topic controversial?

·        Is the topic tied to religion?

·        Are there ideological interests?

Where: Assess the event location. Remember to consider exterior factors, such as neighborhoods and the possibility of natural disasters.

·        Is the location in a safe area?

·        Is the location in an area with increased crime?

·        Is there a history of poor weather conditions?

When:  Consider that moment in time

·        Is it a time of political unrest

·        Is it close to a holiday or major event

·        Is it near the anniversary of a controversial or emotional time (9/11)

Why: Examine the purpose of the event

·        Is the event for a positive purpose?

·        Is it an ongoing event or one-time only?

·        Is alcohol or marijuana an event focus and being served?

How: Inspect procedures for construction of event both physically and managerial.

·        How will it be set up and broken down?

·        How will the event be managed?

·        How will the event be secured?

When Security Planning Is Necessary

In the past, I have been asked if there are any events that do not require security planning. The answer is simply–no.

In this day and age, there is no venue, no event, no celebration of any kind that does not require security planning. One example demonstrating this is the recent cases of random active shooters. As far as the shooter is concerned, it does not matter why people have congregated, as long as there are people to attack. In a live active shooter scenario, the gunman is looking to harm as many people as possible. It doesn’t matter whether the purpose of the event is relevant to him/her or not.

When preparing for an event, it is important to remember that regulations vary from place to place and situation by situation. For example, at most public events on city or state property, with alcohol served, the municipality or government requires professional security. It is important to know that the number of people in attendance affects the amount of security staff and considerations.

If your event company does not have experience or training in security, hire an agency that can train your staff on preparedness or provide it for you. Keep in mind that if there are security-related issues that happen at your event and you are not prepared, it will not only affect the safety of your attendees, employees, volunteers, and vendors. It will also affect your reputation and the perception of safety in your future events.

Michael Julian is CEO/President MPS Security based in Murrieta, Calif. He is a member of security and investigative associations such as ASIS International, the California Association of Licensed Investigators, the National Council of Investigation and Security Services, the Association of Threat Assessment Professionals, and the World Association of Detectives. He is one of fewer than 150 Certified Professional Investigators in California. 

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