Written by David Kramer

You’re having an event. You’ve considered the costs, determined the value, and the final outcome is a resounding, “YES! Let’s make it happen!” Whether starting from scratch or continuing a tradition, the time has come to dig in and get things in order. It’s time to think about participants, locations, dates, goals, and the myriad of other details that combine to create the memorable experience your organization needs.

With best intentions for amazing days ahead, it’s important to also plan for that which may not go as planned. Simply avoiding the topic of rain, for example, doesn’t mean that it’s not going to happen. Nor is the person who brought it up the one responsible should it rain on your parade. But don’t let the fear of what may happen dissuade you from your goal. Today, let’s talk through various security related elements and plant the seed for appropriate precautions and action plans.

Throughout the planning lifecycle you’ll encounter many scenarios related to the safety and security of your event. To best serve your constituents you’ll need to weigh the value of mitigation against the potential outcome. Does it make sense to have numerous police officers securing the perimeter of a local charity run with 500 participants? Probably not. Though if the support from this run is going towards a divisive or controversial cause, it will absolutely be worthy of in depth discussion with the necessary parties. This is just one rather simple example of how security should be considered for your event.

Looking at the big picture, nearly every aspect of your event influences the safety and security of those involved. Some are worthy of consideration, some are not. Below is a list to use as a starting point, keeping in mind that all events will have their own unique requirements.

  • Organization/Cause Supported
    Is it controversial? Is the general public sensitive to the matter at hand?
  • Participants/Attendees
    Who is the primary audience? Are they likely to get out of hand? Is there alcohol?
  • VIPs
    Who will be on site?
    Are they high profile individuals who will draw a crowd or do they invite controversy?
  • Site/Location/Course
    Are there secure entrances/areas or is the entire site open to all?
    Does the location have a history of security concerns?
    Can the course be set up in a safe manner?
  • Money Handling On Site
    Where might cash be trading hands?
    Does the volume require additional security?
  • Media Coverage
    People, not necessarily your participants, will do lots of stupid stuff when they see a camera.
    This can get you good attention or bad attention.
    Think through what you want the media to present and the best place to position them for your desired results. They’ll be looking for something newsworthy, so make sure it’s your mission and not a security problem that makes the evening news.

As you work through the scenarios that may arise it will be important to develop your action plan with steps to handle the unexpected. Keep in mind that event security threats can come from many different angles and could be natural, technological, or human created. There is no one size fits all plan, rather your plan should be scalable to fit the event and the threat. Executing your plan will also require people, and getting the right team on board will prove invaluable. See Part #2 for a review of security resources.

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