Can an open venue really be considered secure?

The nature of a marathon creates security challenges that are difficult to overcome

David Holley, a senior managing director for the Boston office of Kroll echoes the sentiment that events such as the Boston Marathon present huge security challenges. “Another difficulty in protecting an event like a marathon is the fact that there are no assigned seats and the spectator crowd is generally mobile,” he wrote in an article published The New York Daily News. “Moving from place to place to secure a better view, watch friends go by, or work their way down to the finish, the crowd is generally always in motion. Knapsacks and handbags are picked up and put down countless times, and frequently forgotten at the last location, making it difficult to determine whether an object has been abandoned or unintentionally left behind."

Indeed, the mess of “left behinds” after an event like a marathon is a daunting task to sift through and dispose of, he added. These things make it difficult to monitor and secure open-venue events, but it is also what makes them wonderful events to attend, he said.

Wardell agrees that having the ability to screen fans at specific ingress points is the most important difference between his Final Four and the marathon. “For the Final Four, even though we had open venues, they all had defined perimeters with access control — even if that access control was just staring at you and doing bag checks,” he says. “Fans and vendors (at the Final Four) were required to go through a gauntlet or checkpoint that allowed for screening. At the marathon, you had people standing 50-feet deep, sitting at cafes along the route. How do you prepare for that?

“There is a fine line when you talk about securing the venue and providing security for the venue,” Wardell adds. “To state that something is secure is a difficult prospect. We always have inner and outer perimeter security at big outdoor events — we have always provided solutions that were reasonable and prudent. You usually don’t take it to the level of a Presidential visit where you seal manhole covers and such; but, in the future, given the status of events, we may have to take it to that next level.”

Steve Lasky is editorial director for Cygnus Security Media, which includes, and Security Technology Executive, Security Dealer & Integrator, and Locksmith Ledger magazines