Beating at Dodger Stadium puts security in the spotlight

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Monday, June 13, 2011

ATLANTA—The severe beating of a San Francisco Giants fan following the opening-day game at Dodger Stadium on March 31, has caused public scrutiny of the ability of security to protect fans. After Bryan Stow was jumped in a parking lot as he walked back to his car—he remains in a coma with possible brain damage—fans complained there wasn’t enough police presence outside the stadium. Now, police officers are present everywhere during Dodger games, reported The New York Times, from foot to helicopter patrols, all on the lookout for fights and ugly rowdiness during and after games.

But securing a stadium requires a lot more than adding officers. Dan Donovan, director of sport and entertainment practice at Guidepost Solutions, has helped venues prepare for major events including last year’s Super Bowl at Cowboys Stadium. He also provided security consulting for the Sydney and Atlanta Olympic Games.

“I don’t care if you’re a stadium or an airport or a Manhattan corporate building, you’re going to have issues,” he said. “It’s a matter of how to best prepare your team to manage those problems and incidents.” The ultimate goal for security professionals is to be able to have the highest situational awareness possible so that an incident can be resolved quickly and effectively. Being adequately prepared requires a combination of technology, training and exercising emergency plans, he said.

One of the most significant difficulties in securing stadiums is ensuring that staff members are properly trained. Because venues tend to hire part-time employees during large events, it’s difficult to fully train those employees on emergency procedures.

A big part of Donovan’s job now as a consultant is to provide stadium leadership with a comprehensive threat, risk and vulnerability assessment. “We look at all the risks related to an event,” he said. This includes everything from belligerent fans and terrorist threats to operational and weather-related risks.

After risks are identified, Donovan helps stadium security leadership prepare to respond to such events. He uses specialized software that simulates an incident and the proper response and evacuation process. “This can help facility managers plan how to realistically move 90,000 people out of a building,” he said.

During the simulation, leadership also gets a chance to practice how they would communicate to employees during an event. Donovan said it’s important for security directors to practice evacuating certain sections at a time. “The best way to prepare an organization to evacuate a whole building is to work on smaller spaces,” he said. “We have to break it down into manageable bites.”

Comments

Dear Editor,
 
With regard to this article, perspective is needed clearly.
 
What the public fails to generally understand is the level of commitment which exists between the Federal agencies such as the FBI and ATF, the state agencies and county and local law enforcement in stadium and arena operations which is coupled with private security companies in many cases. The dollars in security/crowd control that are spent annually are extensive and are shared between government and private enterprise. And in these "tough economic times" that gets harder too. However, we can look at the other side of the coin as well,
 
Security/law enforcement CAN’T be everywhere. But they can be proactive;
 
Golf cart and "mule" patrols being made in parking areas constantly from beginning to end of games.
Inclement weather vehicles doing same during foul weather
Redeployment of existing staff to critical areas as game operation progresses
Working with valet and parking staff to be additional eyes and ears. Radio communication to get LE where it needs to be faster.
Arenas/Stadiums to work arrangements with tow services to serve as courtesy patrol for lock outs, battery jumps, etc.
Scalp patrols to drive scalpers back and out of stadium grounds. Many times, these are just scam artists or rip off pros.
 
Train internal employees who work for concessions, janitorial and the crowd control operation as to what to look for. And don't stop
at just criminal material. Teach everyone what to do in an emergency such as an evacuation, how to deal with injured people etc.
 
I do have one question which always brings me back to many fans who attend these events. When this person was being beaten so viciously, where were all the people? In a parking lot? No one saw this happening? And no one was willing to stop it? That could only have been the police?
 
Right ...
 
Thank you for allowing me to express the opinion.

Bram L. Bottfeld, Director of Security, CastleGuard Security Services