Campuses Search for Ways to Thwart Bombers

Think something like the Boston Marathon bombing can’t happen to your campus community? Guess again.

Editor’s note: In light of the bombings that occurred in New York City and New Jersey this weekend, CS is highlighting the article below, which we was orgininally published in response to the 2013 Boston Marathon Bombings.

Schools and universities are vulnerable to bombings and should review the protective measures they have in place, says Dr. Lou Marciani, director of the National Center for Spectator Sports Safety and Security (NCS4). At greatest risk to improvised explosive devices and other types of bombs are events with minimal access control where large crowds gather, such as free public concerts, homecoming celebrations and especially tailgating events outside of college football games.

“For example, at Louisiana State University we have 86,000 people inside the stadium and 50,000 outside. If something were to occur outside, it would have the same effect as the Boston Marathon bombing,” Marciani says. “We didn’t have this problem until the last couple of years when the number of people not going into events [but staying outside in the parking lots] increased immensely. It presents a whole new problem for us.”

Campus protection professionals are working to improve security best practices for tailgating and expanding the public safety perimeter to include parking lots surrounding big sporting events. Determining just exactly what those best practices will be, however, is a challenge. Tailgaters bring lots of coolers, backpacks and even campers filled with food, booze and electronics like large screen TVs. Searching and separating the individuals with ill intent from the vast majority of attendees who just want to have fun can be extremely difficult.

“As we get more sophisticated with tailgating, [security] is going to require more portable cameras and better access to video surveillance,” he says. “We also need to maintain security during the game so the personal belongs of those who tailgate are protected.”

Additionally, the problem is not limited to colleges. High schools are also at risk.

“The element they have is the fiber of the community, and it’s different than a college community or the pros,” claims Marciani. “There isn’t that much access control or identification. We’ve learned in our pilots that they need work on their plans for active shooters and evacuations.”

Photo courtesy Southern Mississippi University and NCS4.

About the Author

Robin Hattersley Gray
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Robin has been covering the security and campus law enforcement industries since 1998 and is a specialist in school, university and hospital security, public safety and emergency management, as well as emerging technologies and systems integration. She joined CS in 2005 and has authored award-winning editorial on campus law enforcement and security funding, officer recruitment and retention, access control, IP video, network integration, event management, crime trends, the Clery Act, Title IX compliance, sexual assault, dating abuse, emergency communications, incident management software and more. Robin has been featured on national and local media outlets and was formerly associate editor for the trade publication Security Sales & Integration. She obtained her undergraduate degree in history from California State University, Long Beach.

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