Arena and Stadium Security Requires Protecting People, Property, and Assets

The tragic event this week in Manchester, England at an arena filled with families and children attending a concert reminds us of the evil of terrorism. The attack by a suicide bomber was Europe’s 13th terrorist incident since 2015. As ISIS claims responsibility, it calls for supporters to strike anywhere and with whatever weapons possible—vehicle, firearm, or explosive—showing us once again that this danger is real with no signs of going away. My professional experiences have taught me how to effectively plan, prepare and implement multi-disciplinary security measures to counter this threat. Remember, security has to be right all the time, but the terrorist only needs to be right once.

High Profile = High Risk   

Large-scale venues, such as an arena in Manchester, stadium in Paris, or major league ballpark in the U.S., are prime targets due to the high volume of people in a condensed area. A terrorist who wants to inflict as much damage as possible to numerous victims is drawn to these types of facilities, especially a high-profile site like an iconic sports venue. Protecting buildings and properties this big is no easy task but risk can be controlled and lives can be protected with the right combination of knowledge, experience, and resources. The key to safeguarding a large piece of real estate is the strategic placement of security assets, which can only be learned from real world experience.          

Your Plan Needs to be Tailored, Customized, Reasonable, and Effective

After years of protecting large-scale operations and major events on a global stage with both the Secret Service and as a security consultant, I understand that a large-scale venue security plan requires appropriate countermeasures to mitigate the various types of hazards and ensure the safety of both the people attending the event and the operation of the venue. With that understanding, a security plan needs to be uniquely tailored to the environment and culture of the property. The Lake Forest Group’s security planning follows a developed and still evolving process based on the 35+ years of experience in law enforcement, security, legal, and human resources of our team.

The Six Pillars of Large-Scale Venue Security Design You Must Consider

The design, creation, and implementation of a large-scale venue security plan begins with an on-site assessment of the site to evaluate risk in six crucial areas:

  1. Personnel security: chain-of-command, manpower, staffing, posts, and supervision
  2. Systems technology: alarms, access control, cameras, monitoring, X-ray screening, metal detectors, and command center capabilities
  3. Physical security: fencing, gates, barriers, locks, windows, and hardware
  4. Processes: security policies, operational protocols, access control, parking, transportation, player/performer protection, crowd control, and guest management
  5. Emergency preparedness: emergency management, incident response, lockdown, shelter, evacuation, and relocation
  6. Liaison with critical third parties and first responders
Leveraging All of the Assets and Resources of the Federal Government

Given the current nature of the terrorist threat and the severity of the consequences associated with many potential attack scenarios, the private sector will need to look to organizations within the U. S. government for intelligence information at critical times. In order to offer you maximum protection, The Lake Forest Group works in collaboration with international, federal, state, and local entities to convene and schedule meetings; develop, write, and disseminate security plans, emergency management procedures, continuity of operations plans, roles and responsibilities of agencies and private sector partners, and counter surveillance plans, among others; and provide daily on-the-ground assistance to meet our client’s goals and objectives and produce a safe and positive environment for participants, guests, employees, and all in attendance.

A Preventative Protective Security Methodology Balances Ends, Ways, and Means 

Ultimately, successful security planning and event management focus on a preventative protective security methodology that balances ends, ways, and means, using the appropriate personnel to identify and assess targeted threats and create enhanced countermeasures to mitigate risk. The Lake Forest Group has provided trusted counsel and thought leadership to our clients by successfully securing professional sports and collegiate stadiums and arenas, corporate offices, industrial plants, commercial properties, government venues, entertainment sites, medical facilities, and academic institutions across the country and around the globe.


Welcome To Safe University (SAFE U)!

YOUR PARTNER IN CAMPUS SECURITY

Safe UniversityWhen the safety of your people is one of your top priorities and your college’s reputation is one of your most valuable assets, you’ll do whatever it takes to provide a safe environment for your students, staff, and visitors. High profile incidents such as mass shootings and sexual attacks at several universities have put the topic of campus crime in the public eye today more than ever before.

Conscientious and well-informed university personnel know that adequate staffing, multi-disciplinary involvement, sufficient resources, appropriate policies, and external support make these incidents less likely to occur—and make leaders more prepared if they do. Safe University (Safe U) partners with you to supplement and enhance your existing security programs by tailoring best practices to your unique situation and campus culture

HOW SAFE U BENEFITS YOUR SCHOOL AND YOUR PEOPLE
Safe U partners with you to create a safe campus environment by ensuring current policies, procedures, personnel, physical measures, technology, and training are at an industry best practice level. Through coordination and integration for preventative security, emergency preparedness, and incident response, Safe U identifies the steps necessary to ensure that students, faculty, visitors, family members, guests, and friends are not exposed to harm.
Our Safe U program specifically tailors best practices in these areas to your unique environment:
• Processes: policies, procedures, plans, and programs
• Personnel: management, police, public safety, and security
• Technology: cameras, access control, alarms, notifications, and call/assistance station boxes
• Emergency preparedness: weather, fire, power, and intruder
• Education awareness and training: classes, exercises, and web-based
• Event planning and management: school-sponsored functions
• Background screening and drug testing: scope, pre- and post-employment
• Physical security: fences, gates, barriers, lighting, and locks
• Regulatory compliance: Title IX, Violence Against Women Act, and Clery Act
PROTECT YOUR PEOPLE, CAMPUS AND BRAND BY BENCHMARKING WITH THE BEST

Studies show that although 86% of higher educational schools have an emergency operations plan, more than 1 in 4 have not had a hazard and vulnerability assessment to develop appropriate all-hazard emergency planning. We’ll share with you knowledge gained from safeguarding global corporations, high profile individuals, major events, and campuses around the country to protect what’s most important.

ADD ANOTHER LAYER OF SAFETY THROUGH SAFE U’S OBJECTIVE REVIEW

By providing objectivity through an independent analysis of your current resources, Safe U ensures a holistic security strategy by sharing the extensive expertise of our team. G. Michael Verden, CEO and Owner of The Lake Forest Group, is a global security expert with a distinguished 21-year career with the United States Secret Service. As a Special Agent, he served on the Presidential Protective Division, Dignitary Protective Division, and Counter Assault Team and assisted in the security and protection of facilities and people for major events, including the Olympics, Super Bowl, Kentucky Derby, Indianapolis 500, and the Women’s Soccer World Cup, among others. As Director of Security for the NBA, he supervised security for the NBA All-Star Game, NBA Finals, and World Basketball Championships. Mike will personally guide the Safe U program to assess and evaluate your current security needs and provide options to optimize your strategic security plan and emergency management plan.


So You Think You’re An Expert!

I know a lot of consultants that fancy themselves as experts in their respective fields. If you really want to validate a self-proclaimed title of subject matter expert, I suggest you test your mettle in a court of law. There is a market for security professionals to offer their expert opinion in litigation proceedings for both civil and criminal cases. These services can include case assessment, evidence evaluation, tactics examination, investigation, report writing, deposition, and testimony.

The Devil is in the Details

In preparing for legal proceedings, assistance from a subject matter expert typically begins with a thorough research process to identify and record current and applicable industry standards and best practice benchmarks. All of this is driven by the nature of the case and the specific discipline you are offering your respective expertise, such as retail theft, facility security, workplace violence, or emergency management. An expert needs to have the capability and competency to not only rely on a methodical and meticulous preparation methodology, but also to offer an equally proficient familiarity and comprehension of the specific subject matter based on educational qualifications, professional background, and definitive experience related to the subject matter.

The Best Defense is a Good Offense  

Another key dynamic is the side you are representing, plaintiff or defendant. It is important to note, that you should never take on a case based on compensation. The bottom line is not the determining factor. The decision to accept work in this field is whether or not the legal position of the prospective client is consistent with your expert opinion. The golden rule is to believe in the side you are representing and the stance you are endorsing. When supporting the defense’s legal team, the best strategy is a confined focus on disproving the position of the other side. On the other hand, when backing the plaintiff, the best tactic is to attack. An expert can be brought in to expose a weakness and highlight one specific fault that could refute the defense’s opinion.

Observe and Report  

The fruit of this labor will be found in the pages of your expert witness report. This document should comprise clear and direct language. Identify where you obtained each fact and piece of data. This can be done with footnotes or direct references in the text of your report. This will show the reader that you didn’t create these facts and will help when testifying. An expert’s role is to state and provide an opinion, every word in the report matters, so choose them carefully. An opinion should be expressed succinctly and confidently. Avoid words, such as, “seemingly” or “apparently,” which gives the perception that the expert is not certain in the written words of the report. The best rule-of-thumb is to imagine how an antagonistic attorney could use these words against you during a deposition or cross-examination.

Never Imitated, Often Duplicated  

There is no substitute for experience. An expert opinion is forged by years of real-world and hands-on experience. You cannot wake up one morning and decide to become an expert. This is a body-of-work developed over years and years of honing your skills. There is no substitute for experience, but experience by itself is not enough. This is not a line-of-work for a professional to rest on their laurels. Complacency and the status quo are fatal flaws. Staying up-to-date with industry trends, emerging technology, current research, and recent articles and publications can keep an expert and an expert.

 


Court Storming: Who’ll Stop the Rain?

With March Madness in full swing and the NBA season winding down, it’s a good time to take a closer look at the cultural phenomenon known as court storming. In light of what recently transpired at some NCAA conference tournament games, court storming seems to rank high on the list of collegiate experiences, along with tailgating, toga parties, and beer pong. It is important to understand that court storming cannot be stopped, but it can be controlled.

As a former Director of Security for the NBA, I was only seriously concerned about this crowd control issue during the NBA Finals and, more specifically, following the deciding game for the championship. Because any post-game revelry was a serious security and safety concern, we took the appropriate steps to prepare for this occurrence. With the proper preparation and contingencies in place, risk to the players, coaches, staffs, employees, and spectators can be mitigated.

Strength in Numbers

The first step in planning for this event was training our security and ushers to protect the court. Prior to the opening of the gates, we assembled all of our event personnel and rehearsed how we would secure the floor. The plan centered around two perimeters—an outer to control access to the court and an inner to protect the teams and their family members. We used a nylon rope as a barricade that we extended around the entire court as soon as the game ended. Serving as rope holders, security and usher staff were repositioned from their assigned posts. In order to effectively exercise our plan, we made the determination to pool our resources and reallocate our assets to the floor. I am a strong advocate of strength in numbers because when you have an arena filled with 18,000 fans, you have to be equipped to stem the tide if they decide to rush the court.

Holding Court 

Next in our process was to maintain what we had established. Positioning myself inside the inner perimeter, I was able to personally observe the chaos and frenzy of the rabid fans celebrating a world championship. Fueled by euphoria and mixed with a little alcohol, this dynamic always presented a formidable foe and an omnipresent threat. The image of the little boy with his finger in the dike comes to mind, because as one hole is plugged, another ominously appears. If I saw areas on our rope line being breached, my planned response was to dispatch extra security to those locations from a cadre of personnel I had designated for that exact role. Because my contingency planning had addressed this concern, we were adequately prepared to react and respond to this hazard.

Fluid, Mobile, and Adaptable

The last piece to the puzzle was to get the teams and families off the court, and we used our inner perimeter to facilitate their movement. The use of the nylon rope offered the advantage of moving the barricade and turning the secure zone into a fluid, mobile, adaptable space. Our personnel were able to escort the players, their families, and other people off the court by creating a temporary corridor from the floor to the back-of-the-house. Safety was paramount in this operation for both participants and spectators. By separating the players from the fans, we actually reduced the possibility of an accidental injury or an intentional criminal act, such as a physical altercation.

Education and Awareness    

A comprehensive public service campaign to educate the general public about the arena’s policy on fan behavior can mitigate court storming. If spectators understand that this type of activity is prohibited, violators will be prosecuted, and ticket revocation enforced, then people might think twice before they decide to enter the field of play. Video messages on the scoreboard, announcements over the public address system, posted signage, website material, social media, and specific text on the back of the ticket all offer different means to communicate that court storming poses a safety threat and those storming the court will be dealt with swiftly, sternly, and decisively.

Post-Mortem

Containing court storming involves evaluating how this transgression is reviewed and investigated post-incident. By interviewing staff to collect evidence and reviewing videotape that documents the event, you may be able to identify patrons who have clearly violated the published protocols and in some jurisdictions broken the law, which could result in a charge of trespassing. As cliché as it might sound, it can be beneficial for the sake of security to make an example of some of these individuals and prosecute them to the full extent of the law.

No Silver Bullet

There is no panacea to eliminate court storming, but remedies can be put into place to plan, prepare, respond, and recover from these types of events. By creating security policies, educating staff, conducting ongoing training, maintaining public awareness, identifying discernible boundaries, and communicating consequences, you can put a collaborative and holistic process in place to counter this annual rite of March Madness.


Court Storming: Who’ll Stop the Rain?

With the NBA playoffs in full swing and March Madness behind us, now is a good time to take a closer look at the cultural phenomenon known as Court Storming. In light of what recently transpired at some NCAA games, court storming has become part of the collegiate experience and ranks right up there with tailgating, toga parties, and beer pong.

As a former Director of Security for the NBA, I was only seriously concerned about this crowd control issue during the Finals and, more specifically, following the deciding game for the championship. Because any post-game revelry was definitely a serious security and safety concern, we took the appropriate steps to prepare for this occurrence. It is important to understand that court storming cannot be stopped, but it can be controlled. With the proper preparation and contingencies in place, risk to the players, coaches, staffs, employees, and spectators can be mitigated.

The first step in planning for this event was training our security and usher personnel to protect the court. Prior to the opening of the gates, we assembled all of our event personnel and rehearsed how we would secure the floor. The plan centered around two perimeters—an outer perimeter to control access to the court and an inner perimeter to protect the teams and their family members. We used a nylon rope as a barricade that we extended around the entire court as soon as the game ended. Serving as rope holders, security and usher staff were repositioned from their assigned posts. In order to effectively exercise our plan, we made the determination to pool our resources and reallocate our assets to the floor. I am a strong advocate of power in numbers because when you have an arena filled with 18,000 fans, you have to be equipped to stem the tide if they decide to rush the court.

The next step in our planning process was to maintain what we had established. Positioning myself inside the inner perimeter, I was able to observe the chaos and frenzy of the rabid fans celebrating a world championship. Fueled by euphoria and mixed with a little alcohol, this dynamic always presented a formidable foe and an omnipresent threat. The image of the little boy with his finger in the dike comes to mind, because as one hole is plugged, another ominously appears. If I saw areas on our rope line being breached, my planned response was to dispatch extra security to those locations from a cadre of personnel I had designated for that exact role. Because my contingency planning had addressed this concern, we were adequately prepared to react and respond to this hazard.

The final planning step was to get the teams and families off the court, and we used our inner perimeter to facilitate their movement. The use of the nylon rope offered the advantage of moving the barricade and turning the secure zone into a fluid, mobile, adaptable space. Our personnel were able to escort the players, their families, and other people off the court by creating a temporary corridor from the floor to the back-of-the-house. Safety was paramount in this operation for both participants and spectators. By separating the players from the fans, we actually reduced the possibility of an accidental injury or an intentional criminal act, such as a physical altercation.

After addressing the security measures required to troubleshoot court storming in real time, I’d like to focus on what can be done before and after a game to minimize such an activity. Starting with what can be done before a game, a comprehensive public service campaign can educate the general public about the arena’s policy on court storming. If fans understand that this type of activity is prohibited, violators will be prosecuted, and ticket revocation enforced, then people might think twice before they decide to enter the field of play. Video messages on the scoreboard, announcements over the public address system, posted signage, website material, and specific text on the back of the ticket all offer different means to communicate that court storming poses a safety threat that will be dealt with swiftly, sternly, and decisively.

The after component of containing court storming involves evaluating how this transgression is reviewed and investigated post-incident. By interviewing staff to collect evidence and reviewing the tape that documents the event, it may be possible to identify patrons who have clearly violated the published protocols and in some jurisdictions broken the law, which could result in a charge of trespassing. As cliché as it might sound, it can be beneficial for the sake of security to make an example of some of these individuals and prosecute them to the full extent of the law.

As I stated before, there is no panacea to eliminate court storming, but remedies can be put into place to plan, prepare, respond, and recover from these types of events. By creating security policies, educating staff, conducting ongoing training, maintaining public awareness, identifying discernible boundaries, and communicating consequences, you can put a collaborative and holistic process in place to counter this risk.