Stadium Personnel Discuss ‘Gold Standard’ of Sports Security

The sports security conference helped organizations achieve their security mission, balance costs, achieve operational efficiencies and more.

The National Center for Spectator Sports Safety and Security, or NCS4, hosted its national conference July 12-14 in Phoenix, Arizona.

The conference brought together security personnel from sports venues across all levels of education, as well as professional and marathon events, under the theme of reaching the gold standard in event security.

The gold standard theme was described as a benchmark concept designed to help sports organizations achieve their security mission strategy while balancing costs, operational efficiencies, maintaining an engaged workforce and enhancing the fan experience.

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“When you look at security, it’s really about people, and it’s about being knowledgeable and kind,” NCS4 Director Lou Marciani says. “So we focus on enhancing best practices and identifying gaps in security so attendees can grow themselves and by doing that they’re growing their organization’s capabilities.”

This year’s conference featured interactive roundtables, expert panels, award ceremonies and an exhibit hall. Attendees were also separated into their respective fields for a tabletop exercise that allowed them to compare and assess their emergency response capabilities as they worked through hypothetical scenarios.

“It’s about building relationships to improve preparation, because without relationships you’re siloed,” NCS4 Director of Training and Instruction Dan DeMott says. “Our venues are some of the largest softest targets, so bringing people together from all different realms to share best practices helps protect spectators everywhere.”

NCS4 worked with various organizations, leagues and private firms to craft the structure of this year’s conference. The Department of Homeland Security, in particular, provided guidance on content.

“We get feedback from a lot of people and we’re tied to the Critical Infrastructure sector of DHS, so we’re knowledgeable of certain issues they want us to address,” Marciani says. “It’s a strong partnership, and if they need assistance from us we’ll give it to them and vice versa.”

DHS officials were deeply involved in the conference’s national forum, which focused on terrorism threats like active shooters and improvised explosive devices. Terrorist attacks like 9/11 and the Boston marathon bombing have changed the nature of event security, and DeMott says terrorism is something security officials must prepare for.

“As a soft target you have to be correct 100 percent of the time, whereas a terrorist only has to be right once, so we want to maintain confidence within our fan base,” DeMott says. “What is it that we need to be able to protect our events?”

Marciani thinks security managers have similar answers to that question across all levels of event security.

“There’s individual needs in each field, but the principals are the same,” Marciani says.

But the differences in approaches can also provide benefits to attendees.

“The professionals will bring something unique that the colleges will look at and the high schools get to see what’s happening at the collegiate level, so everything’s based on what we need to do to make sure spectators are safe and secure,” says DeMott, who worked for Texas A&M before NCS4. “Conversely, someone at the high school level may say ‘This is what we do’ and professionals will like it and look to scale it up for their events.”

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About the Author

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Zach Winn is a journalist living in the Boston area. He was previously a reporter for Wicked Local and graduated from Keene State College in 2014, earning a Bachelor’s Degree in journalism and minoring in political science.

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