Beating at Dodger Stadium puts security in the spotlight
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.”