Securing New Orleans with an incident command approach

Aug. 3, 2011

Much like the coaching staffs he is charged to protect, New Orleans deputy mayor Lt. Colonel Jerry Sneed, USMC retired, says that good game preparation is the key to success. Speaking as a keynote at the second annual National Sports Safety and Security conference, Sneed, who became New Orleans' first director of Office of Emergency Preparedness and director of Homeland Security following the disaster of hurricane Katrina, considers himself the most politically incorrect member of the present city government. But there is no doubting his passion for protecting the citizens of his city from the war he says has been brought to America's doorstep.

“We are at war whether we like it or not,” he said to a crowd of more then 500 sports team and venue security personnel. “And there are three main ways they seek to attack us. They want to make a monumental statement to the world, they seek to destroy our economy, and they want to make us afraid to what makes everyday life enjoyable. So setting a large sporting event as a prime target fits right into that type of mindset.”

Sneed says it his team's job to make sure those statements aren't made in New Orleans, which is a tall order considering the city is a regular host to NCAA football bowl games, college basketball tournaments and of course the NFL Super Bowl. So how does he calculate winning security game plan?

It is a two-pronged strategy. First, his team makes sure it is prepared for all possible scenarios and two, the team ensures the response is appropriate to the event itself. As a a United States Marine for more than 30 years, Sneed was not always a fan of how the military employed its intelligence resources. But in his role in the private sector, he admits that shared intelligence is the only method the city can manage appropriate emergency responses.

Teaming with the New Orleans fire and police departments, along with with the Jefferson Parrish Sheriff's department, they use coordinated Incident Command Systems procedures to ensure coordinated communicate and a plan of attack.

“It is key that everyone is brought into planning at the same time. All parties can then understand their individual roles and how each role effects the success of the emergency plan,” Sneed says. “You have to find balance as you set up your plan, where you need to deploy your assets and finally how you initiate the plan to gain the logistical advantage.”