Venue Security: Are We Doing Enough?

Venue Security: Are We Doing Enough?

Venue security has been on the mind of security professionals since the Paris attacks when three gunmen ran into the Bataclan theater and opened fire, killing 89 people during an Eagles of Death Metal concert. The atmosphere filled dark rooms, neon lights, loud music and crowds of people make venues one of the easiest soft targets to attack. So, why aren’t we doing more?

This question has become increasingly more relevant in the wake of the mass shooting at an Orlando nightclub, Pulse. The suspect was able to enter the club with two guns and in three hours killed 49 people and injured over 50 more, making the tragic event the worst mass shooting in U.S. history.

In addition the mass shooting, a former Voice contestant, Christina Gimmie was also killed over the weekend following a concert at a small venue in Orlando. Gimmie was meeting with fans at a meet and greet after a show at The Plaza Live when a gunman shot and killed her. Gimmie’s brother tackled the man and during the struggle, the suspect shot and killed himself. Gimmie’s brother was hailed as a hero for protecting more than 100 lives present at the concert.

At The Plaza Live, where Gimmie died, there was one security officer, but that person was unarmed. They did a small amount of screening at the doors of the venue, looking in purses and larger bags, but a metal detector was not used. Venue owners went on record as saying the types of people heading into the venue were not the kinds of people who might have a weapon on them, they never expected what happened to Gimmie.

At the Pulse Nightclub, there was one off-duty officer who was armed as well as a bouncer who was allowing people inside the club at the time of the shooting. At one point, the officer was able to get the shooter outside the club, but he wasn’t successful in keeping him out. The shooter killed two people outside the club and then ran back inside, holding some of the clubbers hostage for the next three hours.

These incidents show that there isn’t a show that is too big or too small. Unlike sports areas or stadiums where metal detectors are mandatory, smaller venues aren’t equipped to invest in screening devices which typically start around $4,000. While it is expensive, the cost of not having the security device is obvious in the wake of the Orlando shootings.

Informing people of their options in an active shooter situation could be one of the most priceless ways to keep concert-goers or clubbers safe. Owner of PVF Security Consulting LLC, Patrick V. Fiel Sr. says that knowing your surroundings could aid in saving lives during an active shooter situation.

"When you're going into a facility, when you're going into a theater, going into a club or anything like that, know your surroundings," Fiel said. "Know your entry points. Know your exit points. Know what you're going to do and how you're going to react."

If a person cannot exit in time, and is instead met face-to-face with the shooter, Fiel suggests running.

"The first thing you do is run. If you can't run to a safe location, you need to hide the best you can. Then the worst and last scenario is if you are encountered by the shooter, you have to fight. You know? You have to survive."

In terms of other club security measures, they could vary depending on where the club is, perhaps in a high-crime area? Does the venue see a lot of traffic regularly? These questions could determine the amount of security needed at the establishment whenever the doors are open, and depending on the type of event, more security can be added.

Security personnel at smaller venues may be staff bouncers (who are often not subject to the same regulations as full-time security officers), off-duty police officers, or contractors, but to have these security personnel on staff, again, this could be very expensive for the small venues with even smaller budgets, especially considering security training and background checks needed.

So here’s the question. If concerts range anywhere from 20 to 20,000 people, at what point do you decide there needs to be a metal detector or some kind of beefed up security protocol? How can we create a comprehensive security plan that keeps all events, big or small, safe to attend? Because, I for one, will not be afraid to live my life.

Posted by Sydny Shepard on Jun 14, 2016

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