Event Security – Proactive, not Reactive


Every event planner in the country felt a pang of fear witnessing the insane tragic killings in Las Vegas. This is a natural reaction that could, however, easily morph into a counterproductive overreaction. Fear produces adrenaline that causes our central nervous system to impulsively fight or flee. If we are not in immediate danger, however, it can cause us to overreact and take inappropriate action. We have already heard from planners who have doubled the size of their upcoming event’s security force, or hired armed guards for the first time, or changed venues because they were in a high-rise hotel that reminded them of the Mandalay Bay, or cancelled a future event scheduled for Las Vegas. As professionals, we must be careful not to overreact.


When it comes to security, the appropriate reaction is pro-action. Las Vegas is a stark reminder for planners to review security protocols to assure they are doing everything possible, not to prevent insane tragic violence or cataclysmic acts of nature, but to keep attendees as safe as possible in the event of a disaster. The following “best practices” should be considered carefully.

  1.  Although often unpleasant, develop a worst-case scenario with your security team prior to every event.
  2.  Communicate concerns to the facilities event management team well in advance.
  3. Connect with local law enforcement to be apprised of nefarious activity that might be on their radar.
  4. Instruct all event personnel outside the security team to “say something-if they see something”.
  5. Tour the venue in advance of your event to begin building an emergency response protocol. Do not leave it to the venue’s security service. Too often the emergency evacuation plan has grown stale and is not appropriate for your particular event.
  6. Contact the local EMT, hospital, and Fire Marshall to inform them of your event and audit their readiness.
  7. If your event is big and complicated enough, contact a security consulting company to learn what you may have missed when it comes to security and evaluate hiring the service to improve security and safety.
  8. Las Vegas is the shocking “wake -up call” that puts security at the top of the to-do list. If security has not been a top priority in your planning procedure and you tend to leave it to the venue, make it a top priority now.
  9. Incorporate the systemic process of identification, assessment and control to eliminate or minimize the risk of untoward outcomes.
  10. Finally, review registration and access procedures to ensure that appropriate limits are placed on what levels of access are granted.


The list above is by no means meant to be a comprehensive security plan. It is meant to remind planners to become more pro-active when it comes to security. Once you have carefully thought out and executed all appropriate security procedures, you have done all you can to keep your attendees safe. The rest is up to God.

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