At the Frontline: NCS4 Director Dr. Lou Marciani

Boston Marathon attack opens organization's eyes to securing open public events


How much of a role do public-private partnerships play for security, especially in a venue like a marathon?

They are critical — the government can only do so much. The private side needs to participate, the public side needs to participate, and the spectator has to participate as well. We’ve done a great job the past few years with ‘see something say something’ and I think that was probably a factor in Boston. That has really been coming on very successfully in this country—you’ve got to take care of yourself first, so look around and if you see something suspicious, you need to jump on it and tell someone.


Can you remember an event where law enforcement was so dependent on spectators and the general public to collect evidence, particularly video surveillance?

 The last one was the police in Los Angeles who were asking for video while investigating the (2011) beating of Bryan Stow, a San Francisco Giants fan in the Dodgers Stadium parking lot (Editor’s note: the two alleged assailants, Louie Sanchez and Marvin Norwood, are currently still awaiting trial in Los Angeles). I think what that says overall is that social media, cameras, smartphones and mobile devices are changing the way we are integrated into these events as spectators. These public events might not have all the sophisticated cameras that there might be at a stadium because they are portable events — they are there one day and finished and gone the next. The point is, that’s why you heard (the call for videos from the general public) — people are so free today to take video with their smartphones, there is bound to be one of those smartphones that can make a difference for forensic reasons or for the purposes of defining what happened.


Supporters of NCS4 include the NBA, NFL, MLB and a host of other stadium-related sports bodies. Is there a body that would represent marathons that would or should attend the conference and education programs?

We’ve had some race organizers come to the conference, but we’ve never really concentrated on these type of outdoor events. But I can guarantee that at this year’s event there will be representatives from marathons, parades and other outdoor events—they need help and education too. We were so concentrated on stadiums as a priority, but that will change and it’s time for us to at least reach out to the marathon people for now and just chip away so that when we have a national conference like we do, all the constituents are represented. I also think that someone from these marathons—someone from New York, London or Boston — should be on our advisory board, and I will make that happen.