While providing effective security 24/7 is an ongoing challenge, special events often raise the stakes and demand a heightened level of focus on security protocols and contingency planning. In fact, the U.S. Department of Justice publishes a special guide for Planning and Managing Security for Major Events.

Increased Exposure and Expectations

Any special event introduces new variables into the security equation. Such events normally introduce people of unknown backgrounds into the environment and attract the attention of many who aren’t security-conscious. These and other factors require those responsible for special event security to consider a number of additional factors above their normal issues. Seven of these concerns are addressed below.

1. Planning

Any event with a large number of attendees requires extensive and careful planning. While the other items discussed below are a part of that planning process, the very activity of pre-planning is one that requires expertise and special insights. Individuals with experience in the type of activities planned should be consulted and included in the planning process. All decisions and procedures developed during the planning process must be clearly documented and communicated to all personnel, from the temporary guard to full-time employees.

It is especially important than any additional staff added for the event be properly vetted and trained in the expected procedures.

2. Access control

Depending on the facility and the normal procedures for access control, the process for granting admittance to non-employees and staff must ensure that limits are placed on what levels of access are granted. Any areas that are sensitive or off-limits must be clearly protected from unauthorized access, whether accidental or purposeful.

3. Screening and Inspections

Proper equipment must be onsite for screening of individuals to the desired level of security. If the equipment is different from that normally used by security personnel, it must be installed, tested and properly set. Operators must be trained and efficient in the use of the equipment, including the proper procedures for handling any banned items detected during screening.

4. Sensitivity to individual rights and freedoms

While security is the first priority for assigned personnel, there is an ongoing need to understand and be sensitive to the lines where efforts to guarantee a secure environment cross over into encroachments of personal freedoms. All personnel must be fully trained in these issues and aware of what they are allowed to do with respect to enforcing security levels.

5. Establish necessary temporary relationships and communications

Special events often require liaison with external departments, including local fire, police, and hospital staffs. All needed contacts should be made with plenty of advance timing and clear lines of communications and accountability established.

6. Establish procedures for handling various situations

From health issues to rowdy attendants to natural disasters, full contingency planning must take place to address any conceivable problem and security issue.

7. Proactive security response training

Beyond the planning itself, key personnel should conduct training to address the most common potential problems. Such training should test the communications and response plans for all concerned participants. Of course, the larger the special event, the greater the need for such exercises.

Special events can place extraordinary expectations and requirements on security personnel and proper pre-planning for such activities is essential.

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