Christine Spigai

In today’s global threat environment, stadiums are high-profile targets. In response, sports organizations must be active, rigorous and vigilant on stadium security. Protection of fans, players, staff and venues requires a robust security posture that identifies growing threats and recognizes vulnerabilities. In our last blog, “The Value of a Comprehensive Threat Assessment in a Stadium Environment”, we took a close look at the critical need to identify potential security gaps with an independent and comprehensive vulnerability assessment. This is a crucial first step.

Whether a baseline assessment or a subsequent review, the intel that this process reveals will dictate required security initiatives for an individual stadium. An effective security model is layered and addresses physical, intelligence and investigative areas. Let’s look at three primary physical security considerations in the stadium environment.

Explosive Detection Canines

Sports venues usually have substantial perimeter security established at the entrance to their facilities. But with crowded parking lots and access areas, the threat extends to a larger radius surrounding the venue, making a secondary security perimeter essential. Threats and risks to the secondary perimeter of a stadium are often overlooked. Every sports organization today must consider the person born IED threat, because it is one of the most likely. Bomb dogs, known as Explosive Detection Canines (EDCs) in the industry, can be effective tools to secure your secondary perimeter. EDCs imprinted and trained to conduct explosive odor tracking in crowds are the most effective method to address the threat of IEDs. Without a qualified EDC team, it is easier for a person carrying or wearing an explosive device to get close to – or inside – the venue, where loss of life and facility damage is all but inevitable.

Comprehensive X-ray Screening

X-ray scanners and metal detectors have been utilized in some venues for a long time, however they are not used consistently in all sporting events at the professional or collegiate level. Moreover, traditional metal detectors and X-ray screening solutions are not able to address today’s threat of vehicle borne or person borne IEDs. Whether a mailroom package, a loading dock delivery or patrons entering at the primary perimeter gate, proper screening is vital in combatting all presentations of explosive threats.

Experienced, well trained screeners are a crucial component of successful screening. However, the average security screener often lacks the experience required to quickly identify and assess the multitude of IED presentations. Misinterpretation of suspicious items is a liability risk that may lead to unnecessary evacuations or, even worse, the mishandling of a true IED threat. Certified and experienced bomb technicians are best suited to address this threat. Real-time and instant access to certified bomb technicians, which is available with the addition of MSA’s SmartTechTM, enables successful identification of today’s most prevalent IED threats. Furthermore, it facilitates the cost and operational efficiencies gained through avoiding unnecessary evacuations.

Special Operations

As a critical element of a successful layered security model, the benefit of a surveillance and protection detail within the sports stadium environment is significant. Performed by special operatives with unique technical abilities and backgrounds, this level of expertise serves as a force multiplier to provide enhanced protection against acts of terrorism and to protect life and property in cases of emergencies. These operatives discreetly blend into crowds and are not identifiable as security personnel by potential hostile actors. Starting well beyond the secondary perimeter and working inward, hostile surveillance operatives will identify unusual or prolonged interest in security force deployments, suspicious note-taking or photography, penetration testing, changes in security patterns or procedures, and suspicious vehicles. They can be charged with providing briefings on acquired data, assisting security officers in differentiating atypical behavior, acting as stadium liaison to local law enforcement and government agencies, and even engaging a threat with the appropriate level of force to protect life and property. Their level of engagement should be predetermined according to each sports venue’s security requirements.

These physical security measures are vital to improving an organization’s security posture. In our next blog, we will take a look at the intelligence and investigative aspects of a layered security model that should be a strong consideration for any organization looking to stay ahead of emerging security threats.

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