Top Tips to Keep You Safe at Your Next Event. You Bought the Ticket—Now What?

Recently tragedies in a variety of venues like the Mandalay Bay Hotel in Las Vegas, Pulse Night Club in Orlando, and the Manchester Arena/Ariana Grande concert in England have shown us that awareness requires a 24/7 commitment to help us stay safe—because planning for a potential disaster is now as necessary as buying a ticket. Whether you are going to an event at a downtown park, outdoor summer concert, stadium venue, indoor arena, or smaller club, you must now add “what if” to your to-do list. We’re sharing information and strategies to increase awareness if you’re planning to attend or drop others off at an event.

Plan Before the Event

If you plan to attend a major event such as a rock concert or professional sports at a large-scale venue, you need to be prepared for many types of incidents, whether intentional, accidental, or natural. One of the most important things you can do is to familiarize yourself with the building and property and have a solid plan of action in the unlikelihood that an incident occurs. Because power outages, medical events, and acts of terrorism can happen, you need to be prepared if you’re present when they do.

Your commitment to safety begins before you set foot on the property or in the venue. From checking online for a seating diagram to familiarize yourself with entrances and exit locations, handicapped access, medical help, bathrooms, security, access to public transportation, and parking areas to monitoring social media for any negative or derogatory stories about the event, artist, or team, you can educate yourself about your surroundings—which will help you in the event of an emergency.

What to Do if an Incident Occurs

This place is probably new to you so look around and be committed to “See Something, Say Something” if you observe something happening that doesn’t seem quite right. And while you’re looking around, take note of exits and stairwells in case elevators or escalators aren’t working. A fully charged cell phone with a flashlight will help you if the power goes out and you can use a scarf or bandana to cover your nose and mouth in case the venue becomes filled with smoke or the air is otherwise compromised as well as a sling, bandage, or head cover.

If an incident occurs while you are at the event, you must remain calm so that you can listen for and follow any instructions that might be communicated over the PA system or by security personnel. Your pre-planning will help you navigate your surroundings now in order to direct your group to a safe area and away from the incident or a large crowd to avoid a possible stampede.

After you are safe, assess yourself and your party for any injuries because adrenaline driven activity can mask injuries. You should not attempt to re-enter the venue unless law enforcement directs you to move inside. Also, you should share with the authorities any pertinent information, video, or photos that might help in the subsequent investigation.

There Is No Substitute for Experience 

Our proprietary methodology for planning, constructing, and implementing event security has been designed, developed, and continues to evolve from my personal experiences in security leadership roles for the federal government with the United States Secret Service Major Events Division, where I helped secure the Super Bowl, Olympics, National Conventions, and the Presidential Inauguration. Additionally, my team’s project management background in professional sports with the National Football League, Major League Baseball, National Basketball Association, and the National Center for Spectator Sports Safety and Security (NCS4) provides large-scale event security expertise.

Michael Verden, Owner and CEO of The Lake Forest Group (www.lakeforestgroup.com), is a former police officer, Director of Security for the NBA, and retired Secret Service agent with 21 years of experience protecting the President and First Lady as well as large scale events like the NATO Summit and the United Nations General Assembly. As a strategic security consulting firm, The Lake Forest Group offers you expertise in event security, stadium security, residential security, risk management, emergency preparedness, expert witness litigation, active shooter plans, executive protection, training, and medical marijuana security.

We can design an event security plan that’s right for your culture and, most importantly, protects your most valuable assets—people. Contact me, Mike Verden, Owner and CEO of The Lake Forest Group, at gmv@lakeforestgroup.com or 312.515.8747 to find out more—or share this article with anyone who needs to create a event security plan to safeguard their employees, customers, and brand.


Stadium Security Plan: Are We Safe?   

Those tasked with stadium security face challenges from a number of threats—an airborne concern from a hijacked aircraft or a drone packed with explosives or hazardous material; a ground attack carried out by a vehicle transporting a bomb or driven into a crowd of people, similar to what occurred in Charlottesville; and suicide bombers such as the stadium attack in Paris during an international soccer match with France’s president in attendance. The possibility of any of these challenges creates a complex and ubiquitous danger for stadiums and the need for a holistic stadium security plan.

Doing More with Less

What really brings success to a stadium security plan is how well the stadium operators adapt industry best practices in stadium security to your particular situation—ensuring that the security services will perform before, during, and after an incident to avoid a devastating impact on your operations. Our recommended approach to optimizing stadium security starts with a security plan that leverages the most efficient and cost-effective measures for event security, emergency management, continuity of operations, and security operations. Working together, we’ll create, enhance, and update a stadium security plan that achieves the highest level of execution and results in peak performance operations no matter what challenges your venue faces.

There’s No Substitute for Experience       

Our proprietary methodology for planning, constructing, and implementing stadium security has been designed, developed, and continues to evolve from my personal experiences in security leadership roles for the federal government with the United States Secret Service Major Events Division, where I helped secure the Olympics, National Conventions, and the Presidential Inauguration. Additionally, our team’s project management background in professional sports with the National Football League, Major League Baseball, National Basketball Association, and the National Center for Spectator Sports Safety and Security (NCS4) provides large-scale event security expertise.

Haves and Have Nots

A stadium security plan begins with an on-site assessment of the venue to evaluate the resources you have and those you don’t have, including: (1) personnel security (security officers, police officers, fire fighters, guest services, paramedics, and emergency managers); (2) security technologies (intrusion detection, card readers, video surveillance, duress devices, notification systems, and communications capabilities); (3) physical security (barriers, barricades, bollards, lighting, gates, and fences); (4) emergency preparedness (emergency evacuation, lockdown, shelter-in-place, triage, and decontamination); and (5) liaison with law enforcement, fire department, and emergency medical.

When the Rubber Meets the Road

Understanding your own resources as well as those of external support services, such as the first responder community, enables stadium leadership to construct an effective stadium security plan. The plan needs to account for access control, security, safety, and enforcement of the policies and procedures that discourage unlawful activity both in the stadium and on the exterior grounds. As one of the main requirements, your security plan must clearly demonstrate succinct and measurable processes to safeguard all assets, including the people, property, and brand. It is equally important to incorporate crisis management into the stadium security plan so that specific guidelines address all hazards, such as weather, accident, or crime. In addition, when you coordinate with the public sector in contingency operations, emergency management, and incident response, among other areas, you ensure that the event participants, as well as the attendees, are not exposed to risk.

Nothing Fits Better Than a Tailor Made Plan

Because I have designed and managed security for major events in both the public and private sectors, I benchmark stadium security against comparable venues as well as industry standards and apply my knowledge of best practice-based stadium security disciplines to each client’s environment. For a complete picture of your stadium security profile, you can schedule a professional assessment that will evaluate the technical, physical, personnel, and procedural security measures currently in place at your venue.

You’ll find out what you’re doing well and where you’re exposed to unnecessary risk as well as receive recommendations and strategic considerations with next steps to protect critical components of your processes—especially where vulnerabilities currently exist. Also, you’ll identify what, if any, security and safety measures or systems are needed now or should be introduced at a later date.


P-L-A-N: the Four-Letter Word that Keeps You Safe    

“Failing to plan is planning to fail” may be an old saying but it’s never been more important than right now. I have found that in my experiences as a security professional a plan is at the heart of every dynamic and efficient security program. A holistic plan in its most basic form encompasses multiple entities including forecasting, collaborating, coordinating, integrating, and pooling resources. These efforts effectively produce documentation that provides direction, instruction, and metrics that need to be followed in order to implement a collectively designed strategy and course of action.

Train the Trainer

Recently, I hosted an eight-hour training workshop on workplace violence in healthcare settings. With an audience of professionals representing various backgrounds such as emergency managers, security leadership, HR managers, and emergency medical personnel from hospitals, medical centers, and clinics, the workshop shared the step-by-step strategies necessary to prepare, protect, and respond to an incident of workplace violence.

The recurring point and major takeaway of the entire workshop was today’s favorite 4-letter word—plan—and how critical it is to creating a current and diverse training curriculum. A best practice based training program combines research, collaboration, institutional knowledge, and professional experience to produce training tailored to the experience level of your employees that engages them by providing practical and hands-on tools they can implement immediately.

Are You Ready For Some Football? 

As this time of year marks the kickoff to the college and professional football season, an effective stadium security plan ensures safety when its design, creation, and implementation address four main categories:

  1. Personnel security: law enforcement, private security, ushers, bomb technicians, canine handlers, emergency medical, and fire department personnel
  2. Technologies: video surveillance, intrusion alarms, access control, X-ray screening, metal detectors, and monitoring
  3. Physical security: fencing, gates, barriers, barricades, lighting, locks, windows, and hardware
  4. Processes: security policies, operational protocols, delivery operations, parking, transportation, player/performer protection, crowd control, guest management, and emergency preparedness

Ultimately, successful stadium security planning focuses on a preventative protective security methodology that balances ends, ways, and means, using the appropriate personnel and resources to identify and assess targeted threats and create enhanced countermeasures to mitigate risk.

All Hazards Emergency Plan Covers It All

The four phases of an all hazards emergency management plan embrace a shared understanding about exactly how to address these phases and their critical emergency-related priorities. You cannot address these priorities—in fact, you cannot take a single step forward—without having a clear, comprehensive, and detailed plan tailored specifically to the circumstances of the emergency.

Should an incident occur, a plan helps individuals and organizations understand these four phases, which can prevent injuries, save lives, minimize property damage, decrease liability, and help restore operations with minimal delay:

  1. Prevention/Mitigation: preventing emergencies and mitigating the risks of their occurrence
  2. Preparedness: preparing to handle an incident
  3. Response: responding to an incident
  4. Recovery: recovering from an incident

To get a complete picture of your security profile, you should schedule a professional assessment that will evaluate the technical, physical, personnel, and procedural security measures currently in place at your organization. You’ll find out what you’re doing well and where you’re exposed to unnecessary risk as well as receive recommendations and strategic considerations with next steps to protect critical components of your business—especially your people.

We can also work with you to construct a tailored plan that addresses specific areas of concern, such as active threat, workplace violence, and executive protection, and provides you with a planned response and recovery in case the unexpected happens.

Do you have a plan or plans to protect your people, property, and assets? All plans start with an assessment to ensure your operations reflect best practices in safety, security, and emergency management and protect against all hazards, such as a weather event, accident, or intruder.

We can design a plan that’s right for your culture and, most importantly, protects your people. Contact me, Mike Verden, Owner and CEO of The Lake Forest Group, at gmv@lakeforestgroup.com or 312.515.8747 to find out more—or share this article with anyone who needs to create their plan to safeguard their business, staff, and visitors.


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.


Building the Perfect (Security) Beast

We turn to a consultant to help us with a challenge we can’t solve ourselves, to supply the knowledge and experience of industry best practices and regulatory compliance, provide a particular type of subject matter expertise, or to guide us through a specific project. While a security consultant is certainly an advisor, assessor, examiner, and evaluator, we can also ask him or her to modify, correct, enhance, and create safety- and security-related documents—specifically, procedural standards such as guidelines, policies, plans, rules, and directives.

Imitation Is the Highest Form of Flattery

If you could create a security department that was an industry leader with best-in-class operations, would you? Of course you would, but how do you know your program is better than the rest? What puts you ahead of your competitors and, equally important, keeps you there? Your success starts with the documents that reflect the mission of the security program while at the same time protect the brand of the organization. Ideally you want to benchmark against companies similar in shape, size, and footprint. If you work for a multinational corporation operating in multiple continents with a global corporate security department, then you want to compare yourself to similar organizations and their full breadth of the security department policies.

All For One and One For All

Employees are more likely to see security as a company priority if management visibly supports security efforts and initiatives. Consequently, a security program is most effective when people see it as an important part of a company’s goals and vision. Among the best ways to demonstrate that support is to include security as one of management’s core values and to promulgate official company policies regarding security. And as the most effective means to this end, multi-disciplinary involvement in the creation and vetting of these documents invites partnerships with legal, HR, IT, and employee assistance to collaboratively design inclusive and relevant procedures. A security department simply cannot do all this by itself.

Let’s Talk About the Nuts and Bolts  

Now that we’ve addressed the importance of building a security program through the “power of paper,” let’s focus on the specific documents needed. Applicable security directives and guidelines can include documents such as:

  • A clean desk policy
  • Access control procedures
  • Restricted area access
  • Visitor management
  • Background screening requirements

While physical security measures are critical, the access protocols and practices and the ability to screen and filter all personnel, services, deliveries, and equipment seeking access to the facilities and its environs are equally, if not more, important. The implementation and effectiveness of security systems, such as closed-circuit surveillance equipment, exterior and perimeter security systems and monitoring, and electronic access control systems, can be determined by the written guidelines and published rules giving instructions on the proper use of these technologies.

Training Is a Perishable Skill

The success or failure of a security program could depend on the training curriculum, security awareness information, and education materials designed not only for the security team, but also for the entire organization. Non-security personnel must receive ongoing and current training on safety-related information regarding emergency preparedness, fire prevention, and workplace violence mitigation, among many areas. Your best practice based security program should combine research, collaboration, institutional knowledge, and professional experience to produce training that engages people by providing practical and hands-on tools they can implement immediately.

Necessity Is the Mother of Invention

We adapt our policies and procedures to our needs and current situation. And the need for most new policies and procedures is driven by knowing current best practices and awareness of emerging threat scenarios. With clients in both the public and private sector, The Lake Forest Group offers you insight acquired through decades of engagements helping organizations assess their current security program—beginning with their written policies and procedures. From there, we can ensure that your corporate environment, financial services, international affairs, business operations, brand integrity, protective intelligence, operational protocols, budget execution, and human resources are built on a strong, best-in-class security foundation.


The World Series of Security: Protecting the National Pastime

As the last days of October are upon us, the Fall Classic—otherwise known as the World Series—has begun. And for the first time in 71 years, my favorite professional sports team, the Chicago Cubs, are participants. The Cubs and their opponents, the Cleveland Indians, represent the longest championship drought with 108 and 68 years respectively. While many people are watching lightheartedly, the security professional in me understands the World Series is about more than just baseball. It is a major international event with the eyes of the world watching, including possibly those of people with intent to do harm.

From the perspective of a security professional, I am thinking about the various disciplines that are required to help ensure safety, such as an event security plan, crowd control measures, emergency preparedness policy, and civil disobedience tactics. The planning and preparation for an event of this magnitude cannot only focus on the ball park, but also need to address the extended area around the venue. To emphasize my point, the City of Chicago in an unprecedented move, is prohibiting access to this area unless you are a resident or have a ticket to the game.

It’s Better to Be Preventative Than Reactive

By employing a prevention-oriented methodology, security personnel can minimize the potential risk confronting a World Series while protecting the brand of the event. They must first identify all threats and vulnerabilities associated with protecting the venue, individuals, and operations. Prevention-oriented security planning and risk management for significant events is a multi-faceted, highly detailed, continuously changing process based on absolute control of the environment. You need a disciplined and comprehensive approach to screen and control all people, vehicles, services, and equipment seeking access to the stadium.

Plan for the Worst—Hope for the Best  

The event security plan needs to account for access control, security, safety, and enforcement of the policies and procedures that discourage unlawful activity both INSIDE and OUTSIDE the venue. As one of the main requirements, your security plan must clearly demonstrate succinct and measurable processes to safeguard all assets, including the people, event, and venue. It is equally important to incorporate crisis management into the security plan and have specific guidelines to address all hazards, such as a field intrusion, power outage, or intruder. Coordination with the public sector is also a must, including contingency operations, emergency management, and incident response, to ensure that the event participants, as well as the attendees, are not exposed to risk.

Nobody Goes There Anymore, It’s Too Crowded

Baseball legend Yogi Berra reportedly once said, “Nobody goes there anymore, it’s too crowded.” If you’ve been watching news coverage of the playoffs, you’ve seen the crowd of fans converging on Wrigleyville, the neighborhood around the ballpark. When you have large numbers of people in a limited space, the potential for crowd control issues, civil disobedience, property damage, and public intoxication increases. Examples of specialized units, local resources such as paramedics, riot police, and mounted patrol are called upon to incorporate into a holistic security posture to protect not only the venue, but also the people who do not have access to the event.

We’re Going To Party Like It’s 1908

History has taught us when a professional sports team wins a world championship we might witness a few incidents of overzealous celebration. Some of this fervent revelry has resulted in burning vehicles, vandalized stores, and physical altercations with police. The lessons learned are that security and law enforcement need to address possible incidents before, during, and after the event. Proper planning includes strategies for crowd dispersion, mass arrests, detention facilities, judicial processing, and temporary housing. Because local resources might not be able to address these scenarios, mutual aid agreements between municipalities are formalized to provide additional manpower, vehicles, specialized equipment, and office space.

We Can Strengthen Your Bench             

Do you have the resources, staffing, and expertise to plan, prepare, and implement a holistic security strategy for a large-scale event—or the “World Series” within your organization?  The Lake Forest Group offers insight acquired through decades of engagements providing protective security for organizations in the private sector such as Major League Baseball (MLB), the National Football League (NFL), the National Basketball Association (NBA), professional golf, horse racing, hotels, resorts, casinos, and gaming. We provide the necessary insight and hands-on advice that lead to tangible results—and help to ensure the safety of your constituents. Contact me at gmv@lakeforestgroup.com or 312.515.8747 to find out how we can address your particular security challenge—or share this blog post with someone who wants to improve their security program.


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.


Super Bowl Needs Super Security

This weekend marks the 50th anniversary of the Super Bowl, which arguably has become the biggest one-day event on the planet. Other major sporting events like the Olympics and soccer’s World Cup garner worldwide coverage and enthusiasm, but those events are spread over weeks compared to this one-game world championship. Many make the case that the Super Bowl is more than just one day, and I wouldn’t argue against it. An assortment of events leads up to the big game including media appearances, corporate functions, and NFL-experience sessions for the fans. All this hoopla and global attention call for the need for unparalleled security measures. The Super Bowl certainly requires super-sized security and I’ll explain how to tackle this challenge.  

Strength in Numbers                                                       

An enormous number of stakeholders is involved in the creation, design, and implementation of a security plan for a Super Bowl. I have had the opportunity to contribute to the security plans for previous Super Bowls in San Diego and New Orleans. Based on my experiences, the best practice-based approach begins the process by identifying the entities associated with the event and separating them into the following categories: federal, state, local, and private. As the next step divides these groups within their respective categories, I will use the Feds as an example. Some of the federal agencies involved are FBI, Secret Service, FEMA, TSA, FAA, U.S. Customs and Border Patrol, and U.S. Coast Guard. This list is not inclusive and other federal agencies will contribute to the security plan.

It’s Important to Know Your Role

Continuing with the federal entities as an example, it’s important to separate the responsibilities of the partners that will be contributing to the security design. Here is what those roles could look like by agency:
• FBI—collecting intelligence, monitoring terrorist groups
• Secret Service—assisting with the creation of the security plan
• FEMA—preparing for any mass casualty incident
• TSA—coordinating domestic and international flights associated with the event
• FAA—implementing no fly zones for aircraft including drones
• U.S. Customs and Border Patrol—screen foreign visitors, airspace security
• U.S. Coast Guard—protecting the waters near the venue

These roles are a microcosm of the prevention, planning, and preparedness that goes into a security plan for any event the scale of a Super Bowl. Think about what is being done at the state and local level. The host city is tapping into every neighboring jurisdiction for support from police departments, fire departments, emergency managers, and county agencies.

Divide and Conquer

Another important piece to the puzzle is to combine these assets into a multi-jurisdictional structure that can maximize your resources. The committee structure has been very effective and allows for these different entities to work side-by-side. These committees represent various areas of responsibility, such as credentialing, legal, tactical, intelligence, and cyber security. For example, the Emergency Medical Committee will have representatives from hospitals, ambulance services, physicians, EMTs, emergency management agencies, fire departments, and the CDC (Center for Disease Control). One of the greatest challenges is to ensure every security- and safety-related discipline has been accounted for.

What Else Goes Into the Plan?

You need to establish additional security measures at the airports, hotels, practice facilities, air space, transportation routes, trains, and waterways. Security perimeters have to be created along with the screening of people, packages, and vehicles such as x-raying the cargo of trucks making deliveries to the stadium. Chemical and biological sensors will need to be placed around the site to detect any harmful gases. Fans will need to pass through metal detection systems and be subjected to baggage inspection and pat-downs. Counterfeit ticketing and ticket scalping will be addressed along with fake merchandising. So, as you can see, a lot of moving parts must be considered to provide a holistic security plan for an event like the Super Bowl. Just make sure your plans are super-sized.