Securing Public Spaces Through Prior Planning

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In recent years, it seems as if terror attacks and active shooter events have become almost commonplace.  While cable news networks and social media platforms use fear mongering tactics to lead the public into believing that no place is safe, with reliable information, and sound prior planning, the above myth can be overcome.  While tragedies do happen at our nation’s schools, concerts, sporting events, and transit stations, the truth is, statistically speaking, the odds of these events unfolding is still exponentially small.  Creating a safe gathering place for friends and family to attend openly, freely, and with peace of mind, can still be accomplished.

Private citizens are now hyper aware of the presence of law enforcement and safety personnel at special events. The first step you can take as an event organizer is to determine a security budget for the event. If the budget allows, hiring off duty law enforcement, or a private security company goes a long way in providing deterrence to criminals. Not only that, having this increased presence will help provide peace of mind to event consumers and organizers, hopefully increasing your attendance. Outsourcing your security needs to trained, vigilant officers really is the best bang for your buck. Law enforcement and security officers are trained in disaster response, de-escalation, and CPR, just to name a few. If you decide to have an in-house employee stand in as a security officer, the odds of them having the same formal training would be rare. Taking shortcuts when it comes to security opens you up to immense risk and will definitely be noticed by attendees.

Next, placing as many barriers between the event space and surrounding structures, including streets, can have an enormous impact in keeping event goers safe. This seems like common sense, but according to many security industry experts, many event organizers take this step for granted. In a day in age where terrorists are using vehicles as weapons, a simple, heavy concrete barrier can be an effective deterrent. Making unauthorized entry as difficult as possible is key. This becomes harder to manage the larger the event is. Limiting the number of entrances and exits, while it may lead to longer lines and wait times, is truly the best way to manage the event traffic flow. Bag checks are another integral part of the process. Consider instituting a “clear bag” policy for all attendees, or a mandatory bag check. For large street events, not all barriers have to be visually unsightly. For example, large, cement filled potted plants and trees can be an effective, but aesthetically pleasing barrier.

Finally, perhaps the newest frontier in securing public spaces starts with architectural and structural design. Many new constructions are now utilizing various styles that the general public might not even realize are done to enhance security. For example, after the Sandy Hook Elementary tragedy, designers fully remodeled the school to include landscaping that limited the building’s visibility from the street, added bullet resistant windows, and floor to ceiling windows to increase surveillance on anyone within the immediate vicinity of the school. Large office complexes and shopping centers are no different. The more open design concept and incorporation of more windows is not only on trend in modern architecture, but also adds peace of mind to customers and employees alike. As a general rule, designers have adopted the mindset that natural surveillance is key. The less potential criminals can see into a structure the better, and on the other hand, the more insiders can see what’s going on outside the better.

Unfortunately, the risk for mass violence will never fully be eliminated. However, if event organizers, business managers, and the general public take steps to be vigilant in thwarting potential attacks, the likelihood of such tragedies are exponentially decreased. It’s very important to show resolve and continue to be confident when attending events and visiting public spaces. Not doing so, means the bad guys win.

If you are an event organizer, or business owner and want to someone to assess your security needs, contact Signal Security, to schedule a free estimate. Living out peace of mind is what you do. Leave the rest to Signal.

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