Ask the Expert: Event Security 101

By Marc Boisclair, September 11, 2018

Harold Hansen Event Security expertHarold Hansen, CFE, is a member of the Event Safety Alliance Board of Directors and a principal and managing partner with the Chicago-based Venue Management Consultants Group, providing safety and security training to the public assembly facility industry. With more than 40 years experience in facility management and safety, Hansen knows his way around risk assessment and planning, a subject he candidly weighs in on below.

When you first heard news of last year’s Las Vegas shootings, what went through your mind?

Those of us involved in the security/emergency preparedness side of entertainment have recognized for quite some time that is was only matter of when such an incident would occur. As more details were reported and the timeline reconstructed, it highlighted the need to consider the surrounding geographic situation better in the risk and threat analysis before the event. For me, the sniper checking into a hotel room, quite some distance away and so very well prepared, had not been a risk or threat identified during an analysis. My thinking was what will we learn from this.

Have you ever been at an event where you felt the security might be compromised?

Yes, back in the mid-2000s, with about 6,000 persons attending. A bomb threat was reported a couple of days in advance by the police department. The event, by its very nature, was very open and had a lot of in-and-out activity associated with it. The police, and hence my boss (a former cop), decided it was hoax and did not allocate any resources, beyond a dog on a quick walk through before doors opened. The event’s organizer and I took it a lot more seriously and developed plans to better control the movements, strengthen the situational awareness of event staff, search the venue as best we could for things out of place, lock the venue down on the day of the event and use credentials for restricted access areas—all as enhancements to security with a limited budget. Thankfully, the event ended without incident.

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Many recognize the risks and threats that exist today, much more so than before and shortly after 9/11. Progress is being made on emergency response and preparedness, but we need to keep getting better.

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