This evenings news underlies a point…we are as vulnerable in Atlantic Canada as anywhere else. We learned of a plot to kill many in a public setting. A group of four, three teens and one in their twenties certainly had the means to act and if it wasn’t for HRP/ RCMP, we may be seeing another news story altogether.
The point in posting this here is that mass gatherings present an almost ideal location for this type of incident. Taken to it’s extreme, this is the ideal situation for a terrorist attack. The goals of terrorism are quite simple, to create terror. Acts are perpetrated in larger groups to allow for a greater impact which will increase the spread through the media. Add the fact it may be a national event, televised or include world renowned artists and you can see the exponential value.
Lots can be learned from Israel and throughout the UK as their depth of experience is unparalleled. Closer to home, the US is bringing a number of best practices into play for mass gatherings. The most notable is the newly implemented measures undertaken by the NFL. They follow a number of tracks, with screening and response being the keystones.
All that said, the evidence is clear that new standards must be adopted for mass gatherings. In terms of screening, we at Toursec have a rigorous program that occurs in three tiers. The top of this screens at levels found in our country’s airports. The example here was the Live with Regis and Kelly shows that took place in Charlottetown a number of years ago. Some vocalized this was an extreme and the exercise would only end to long lines and angry patrons. This wasn’t the case as several thousands were processed for two shows a day. A second part of screening is observation and this is best achieved with CCTV systems. Still uncommon, we do see a number of festivals embracing this technology and it pays dividends. This may not have been tested in the extreme, but it has allowed response to smaller contained incident.
The final element is the ability to respond to an extreme event such as an active shooter. This is accomplished solely through the deployment of a police contingent. This must be more than police officers attending an event as a mere presence piece, but officers who are trained and properly equipped to handle a large scale incident. This isn’t as common as some may think. At events handled by Toursec we see two ends of the spectrum. On one end we have police who gather and essentially watch the show, with little attention paid to behaviours. In these cases the police are poorly equipped to handle even a modest incident. At the other end we have police as an integral part of the event. They are party to the planning, processes and in one example we are part of, have multiple deployments throughout the site and surrounding area. This is complemented by tactical resources such as an incident command post and force options that are well capable of dealing with any event scale.
The point to be made here is that mass gatherings in Canada need to step forward to include a professional security service that not only understands modern demands, but can deliver through proper training and supervision. At present, there are problematic examples of people being hired without training to work on show-day and leadership that has little or no formal education. The latter is often countered by an overly represented amount of experience. Experience is beneficial, but doing the same thing wrong over and over is of zero benefit. In fact, it can be downright dangerous.
To enact change in the event security industry it will require provincial mandate. Basic Security Training (BST) was created as a requirement in many provinces, born from a death in Ontario at the hands of private security officers. The risk in the event world is exponentially greater to where this should be the next line agenda.
When patrons attend an event they expect to be safe. There is also an obligation of care on the part of the entity holding/ running the event. Unfortunately for some events in Canada, change won’t take place until a significant incident becomes the impetus. Catastrophic incidents have taken place throughout the UK and that caused for immediate change and their moving to the forefront in event safety.
Can we not just look to their example instead of waiting for a tragedy?
The question essentially is why does Canada need to wait for a disaster when sufficient evidence for change exists in the UK…..