A little over 3 years ago, the Boston Marathon bombing triggered changes in the world of national event security. On April 15, 2013, two bombs went off near the finish line of the Boston Marathon, killing three spectators and wounding more than 260 other people. The bombings were followed by an intense manhunt that shut down the city for 4 days.
It is not easy to secure a soft target like a 26.2-mile marathon, but previous training helped in the aftermath of the marathon bombing. In preparation for the worst to happen, the Boston Police Department had undergone several multi-agency training exercises through Urban Shield for the past few years. The Urban Shield training is a 24-hour exercise during which first responders are deployed and rotated through various scenarios.
Changes in the world of event security
After the Boston Marathon bombing, the National Football League revised its policy on the size and type of bags that they allowed into stadiums, permitting only clear bags and clutch purses the size of an adult hand. At the 2014 Super Bowl, tailgating was banned, and fans were not allowed to park and walk to the game, or be dropped off by a taxi or limo. Instead, fans had to either take New Jersey transit or ride a chartered bus provided by the Super Bowl committee. Though the NFL has already had metal detectors in place at stadiums since 2011, many Major League Baseball ballparks began implementing metal detectors in the 2014 season, and all ballparks have been required to have them since 2015. Even the intense security for the 2014 Olympics in Sochi, Russia, was influenced by the Boston Marathon bombing.
More security, more training
With new security measures comes extra training and planning. Security plans have to be updated to adjust to the new environment. Major event venues should have and are being mandated to have a training exercise, where in the event of a disaster, staff has been prepared to react.
Another lesson learned from the Boston bombing is video placement. Pictures that were used to identify the bombers came from private sources, like hotels and businesses with cameras. Venues and security teams are now encouraged to catalog cameras ahead of time in order to know who along a route or within a vicinity has cameras and who doesn’t.
Event security discussion at Secure360 Twin Cities
At Secure360 Twin Cities, event security was a major topic of discussion during the day 2 keynote panel. Minnesota has been the home to several major events in the past, including the 2008 Republican National Convention in Saint Paul. In just the next few years, the state will host the 2018 Super Bowl and the 2019 NCAA Men’s Basketball Final Four. Planning for such major events requires cooperation not just between local, state, and federal government, but also a close partnership with the private sector. The panel of national and local experts discussed what it will take to secure a major event while protecting local communities.
The biggest danger for event security planning is complacency. The longer we go without seeing a major attack during an event, the more complacent security teams and planning has the potential to become. It is important to keep event security a priority in security training and discussion.