There is no room for security complacency in the post-9/11 world. Professional and collegiate stadiums and arenas are identified by the Department of Homeland Security as potential targets for terrorist activity. Sport managers have many complex problems relative to emergency incidents, including large crowds, a part-time work force, heavy traffic flow, aviation concerns and live television broadcasts.
Effective Planning and Management Systems
It is critical for sport managers to be cognizant of their capabilities to better respond and recover from man-made or natural incidents by being security-minded and more prepared than ever. Although there is no assurance of absolute security in combating the threat of incidents, effective planning and management systems can reduce the risk to as low as reasonably practicable while reassuring customers, employees and participants that the administration is serious about their safety and security.
Preparing for worst-case scenarios must be addressed within a facility’s safety and security operational plan. Calling 911 is not a plan or option. Hard lessons learned from the past have forced us to recognize the need for more efficient planning, knowledge of on-site resources and understanding of a pre-designed crisis communication protocol around a facility’s command post.
The Planning Process
How do you plan effectively for securing a stadium or arena? This process will assist an operation staff in mitigating liability risks, and reduce the chance of error should a disaster incident occur. Effective planning is essential in security management if the desired result is to build and maintain a system which will incorporate optimal processes developed by highly-trained professionals representing every component of security and emergency management.
The National Incident Management System (NIMS), The National Response Framework (NRF), and The Incident Command System (ICS) each provide valuable guidelines for “preparedness” and compliance about which anyone involved in security management should be fully aware.
Your Team: A good process for the development of an effective safety and security planning involves the input from various staff employees and local, state and federal agencies. A key recommendation in the process is a commitment from management to establish the leadership role of a staff security coordinator for the development and implementation of a safety and security plan. The coordinator should have prior experience in law enforcement or professional event management, because he or she will assume responsibility for key security areas; coordinate the production of the safety and security plan; formulate and maintain search procedures and auxiliary plans dealing with bomb threats, suspect packages and evacuation; liaison with local authorities; develop staff and training regimens; and conduct regular exercises and plan maintenance.
A major function of the coordinator is to form a planning team and establish a schedule and budget. This team will be responsible for the review of existing facility plans and procedures; identification of standards, codes and regulations that apply to the facility; and interfacing with outside agencies and groups to identify all resources and capabilities required to support the securing of the stadiums and arenas.
Facility Emergency Plan
The overall goal is to produce a facility emergency action plan that will be fully exercised and subject to regular audits. Such a plan should address the following:
• Event preparation;
• Incident response, including bomb threats, mechanical problems, structural problems, fire, suspect packages or vehicles, isolated attacks, catastrophic large-scale attacks, unauthorized entry into facility and power failure;
• Evacuation or shelter-in-place;
• Communications; and
Threat and Risk Assessment: Starting Point
Conducting a comprehensive threat and risk assessment is a known starting point for identifying the necessary risk reduction and mitigation measures. It is recommended that only trained and qualified personnel should conduct these assessments to identify potential threats like common crimes, fires, vandalism, natural disasters, protests, terrorism or gangs; gauge potential damages from such threats; determine the likelihood that the problems will occur; and develop cost estimates and actions to prevent the threats.
One of the outcomes of the assessment can be a determination of the appropriate size and scope of the security workforce. It is highly recommended that this workforce be properly screened, trained and equipped.
The Command Post
It is recommended that a Command Post (CP) be established to facilitate and further manage the security aspects of a sport event. The following personnel are recommended in the CP: security director, potential incident commanders, law enforcement, fire/EMS, facility management and media. The security coordinator and the planning committee should select a site and determine equipment requirements and staffing needs. It is imperative to have pre-determined, clearly-defined written duties with specific roles and responsibilities, as well as centralized command and control. The security staff should use an Incident Command System (ICS) with a security director/incident commander to coordinate local resources in response to a critical incident at the facility.
As part of the ICS, the planning team should develop and sign a memorandum of understanding with local jurisdictions that clarifies the legal authority of assisting government agencies to enforce the law in the lead agency’s jurisdiction, and enumerate the commitment of assisting government agencies in providing personnel and equipment. The ICS should be integrated with the CP and use the developed Facility Emergency Action Plan to carry out its responsibilities. The CP should be capable of collecting and interpreting threat intelligence from local, state and federal agencies and maintain constant awareness of current threat conditions.
Following this written agreement, a chain of command should be established and coordinated with local, state and federal emergency management authorities. It is vital that each event have its own ICS document that clearly identifies who has the authority to make decisions relative to man-made or natural incidents. As part of the Facility Emergency Action Plan, an Emergency Medical Plan should be developed and include clear procedures for a catastrophic event, requiring primary and secondary triage and designate triage and transport sites.
Policies and Procedures
We are not able to eliminate risk altogether, therefore we should identify the most appropriate measures to reduce risk to as low as reasonably practicable. We must protect those aspects of our security business that are critical. This involves instituting physical security measures; training and managing security staff; and development of policies and procedures.
There is little point to investing in physical security measures and training if spectators can undermine the venue policies and procedures. The enforcement of the venue policies and procedures is essential for a successful security and safety program. Based on lessons learned, it is essential to develop policies and procedures covering: ADA Compliance; Alcohol; Communications; Credentialing; Employee Code of Conduct; Evacuation; Fan Conduct; Individual Search and Seizure; Missing Child/Person; Parking; Prohibited Items; Tailgating; Ticket Taking; Protecting Critical Systems; and Waste Management.
Security Staff Training
One of the most significant ways to ensure plan effectiveness is having properly trained and experienced personnel with clearly-defined roles and responsibilities. An organizational chart is recommended to further support this, along with individual qualifications and training. It is critical to properly screen, train and equip the security staff for a successful security program. The general training for all facility employees should include:
• Identifying roles and responsibilities;
• Emergency response procedures;
• Evacuation procedures;
• Location and use of common emergency equipment;
• Emergency shutdown procedures; and
• Information regarding threats, hazards and protective actions.
It is recommended that the CP develop clearly-defined emergency and evacuation procedures and plans to outline specific procedures, shelter-in-place evacuation and partial or full evacuations. Once this takes place, regular exercises with facility employees can test these response plans. This will ensure that adequate resources are available to implement the plans and verify that all operating units can implement their responsibilities according to the plans. The administration should consider at least one emergency drill prior to or early in the season and conduct regular reviews to ensure that they remain accurate, workable and current.
It is important to critique all the safety and security activities/incidents. Prepare written reports and incorporate the reviews into the existing plans. An effective sport event security management system will require the involvement and commitment of many agencies and individuals, including volunteers, public agencies and outsourced contractors. It is imperative that the security staff, law enforcement, emergency management and response professionals work together. This teamwork will result in a cohesive, mature and efficient problem-solving environment.
The other aspect of the strategy to secure stadiums and arenas is the implementation of management systems and processes which will protect assets — human and otherwise — to the highest possible degree. The ultimate result and capability will be to detect potential threats, delay attacks on assets and mitigate consequences of an incident, therefore minimizing casualties.
The SESA Seal
The Center for Spectator Sports Security Management at The University of Southern Mississippi encourages the Sport Event Security Aware (SESA) Seal of Approval (as seen on the cover of this issue). This seal can be achieved at every stadium and arena that has a security management system in place. The requirement for the seal includes four processes:
• Assessment: The external vulnerability assessment or self-assessment should include a review of the department’s policies and procedures, physical protection systems, game-day operational plan, emergency response plan, evacuation plan and recovery plan.
• Training: The training should include multi-agency training for all key managers, orientation and training of game-day personnel, team training and role orientation of members of the emergency response team.
• Exercises: The exercises and practice should include annual game-day operations simulations, an emergency response disaster drill, an evacuation plan drill and a leadership response team drill.
• Review: An annual external event security review should include countermeasures, recommendations and improvement plans.
Taking the lead and securing your sport venues with an effective security management system helps sport venues fulfill moral and legal responsibility to protect spectators, competitors, employees, the community and the environment; reduces exposure to civil or criminal liability in the event of an incident; enhances a venue’s image and credibility with spectators, competitors, employees, suppliers and the community; and reduces venue insurance premiums. ?
Dr. Lou Marciani is the director of The University of Southern Mississippi’s Center for Spectator Sports Security Management. He has served as athletic director at several universities and executive director of several national sports governing bodies. He is the principal investigator of DHS grants to conduct vulnerability assessments and game-day audits of university sport venues, develop a simulation system for stadium evacuations, implement a national pilot for sport venue safety and security and design, develop and implement a national risk management certification for sports events.