Athletics Event Security Management: Beginning an important conversation

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In this column, we begin a discussion on Athletics Event Security Management in this modern era. In order to understand the issues, we need to ask questions and look at security issues in recent sporting events.

StadiumWide-Rio16.JPGRio 2016, photo by PhotoRun.net

Before the 1996 Olympics, the various domestic intelligence organizations were searching every nook and cranny in the U.S. for wack jobs, racial supremacists, anarchists and various delusional extremists, who could cause an issue or two with the Atlanta Olympics. A story related to me prior to Atlanta concerned an gentleman who ordered the bubonic plague to his home. Even in 1996, the domestic intelligence groups had this issue with citizens of this country who were not doing medical research ordering something that killed a hundred million a few centuries ago. When the afore mentioned security gents visited the garage of the bubonic plague enthusiast, and found a half dozen trash cans full to the brim with cattle dung. The bubonic plague enthusiast was thrown in jail for ninety days before the Atlanta Olympics. There were, according to my sources, several dozen Americans who had dreamed up ways to damage fans of the Olympics. Most of them spent the Olympics in various penal institutions across the U.S.

One still got through.

In July of 2011, I was in London, covering the London Grand Prix. I was at a presser and met with some media friends. We were discussing the security of the upcoming London Olympics. I was told that both US and British security teams were closely watching the development of the Olympic stadiums. One of the leaders of the London Olympics, it has been said, would dream of terrible things happening the next summer. After the riots in London in August 2011, many wondered how London would go. London 2012 would go off with few hitches. Was it the security provided by US and British security teams? Was it the British infantry who policed the shopping center next to the Olympic stadium?

The 2013 Boston Marathon bombing woke up the sport. My brother and I were covering the Boston marathon live. Brian was in San Francisco, and I was in Boston. For much of the first hour after the bombing, Brian took pictures down from our curated coverage of the marathon. These offending pictures were of the carnage on Boylston Street. I still do not understand why social media allows people to loose their humanity or common sense. My son, Adam, flew into Boston a day early and was able to get the local police, after three days, to allow him to enter my room at the Charlesmark and pack my clothing. I was, at the time, getting a new Passport in order for us to fly to London for the London marathon the next weekend.

In August 2016, we counted several different types of Brazilian security teams surrounding Engenhao Stadio Olimpico. From the army, patrolling with M-16s, shot guns and a gun that looked like the old Browning automatic machine gun, were seen each and every day. Then, there the local police, national security forces, traffic police and soliders who patrolled the stadium 24 hours a day. How effective? My brother and I witnessed a local citizen reach out to two officers in patrol car, who quickly got out of the car and ran towards a statue. Seated behind the statue were two men, with a load of Olympic credentials. The officers had pulled their guns as they nimbly ran up to the two suspects and had them in their control within five minutes. The safest place in Rio during the Olympics? Besides the obvious, any place not frequented by Ryan Lochte, near the Engenhao Stadio, as security was everywhere.

Last weekend, a pipe bomb was found before the start of a road race in New Jersey. That evening, a bomb went off in Chelsea, and another bomb was found nearby. The social world outside of New York forgot that, in the heat of the moment, law enforcement and security services will provide as little info as possible so as not to provide the bombers any information. A few moments on the social media world showed how much, again, many forget their brains when they send out 140 characters. In regards to the pipe bombing and the bombing in Chelsea, both police and fire departments in New Jersey and New York performed their jobs with diligence and focus.

This is the first column in a series on Athletics Event Security Management. Before we can provide answers, we will be asking many questions.

Keeping a cool head in the middle of a crisis is key.

Staying observant of your surroundings is another key to insure safety.

And remembering that there are bad people pushing rotten agendas who will stop at nothing to destroy our hot mess of a society is also important. Successful democracies are always going to be targets for extremists from both sides of the political spectrum.

Sporting events have been, for some time, focal points of terror groups. I do not see that changing in the near future. The only way to combat this fact of modern life is to realize the potential threats and try and minimize those threats. Knowledge is always key.

Let us know your thoughts.

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