New Jersey Senator Robert Singer (R-Monmouth, Ocean) has introduced a bill that requires local law enforcement to work with various state and local agencies to develop security protocols to preserve public safety during events that attract large crowds.
Under the Community Protection Act, agencies such as Homeland Security would work directly with local police to develop security plans. These plans would serve to protect the public during events like festivals, rallies and races.
Naturally, many large venues already have a relationship with police who are brought in to assist. But this bill is unique insofar as it will set legal standards for security. It would aim to put everyone on the same security page. All municipalities, public and non-public schools would have to adhere to the established protocol unless the governor deems the mandate no longer necessary.
The impetus came in part from terror events that occurred in New Jersey last September. A bomb detonated in a trash can on the route of a 5K run taking place in Seaside, NJ and in a separate incident, a pipe bomb was found in a backpack at an Elizabeth, NJ train station. In addition, Senator Singer’s own daughter was involved in a terrorist attack (in Jerusalem) – so the topic is personal. Smaller communities don’t have the kind of support that do larger cities but as we know, they are nonetheless vulnerable.
The draft statement reads:
“The bill requires the Office of Homeland Security and State Preparedness, in consultation with the Attorney General, the Superintendent of State Police, and the State Office of Emergency Management, to develop guidelines establishing a protocol for law enforcement officers, emergency response personnel, and other security workers to follow in maintaining the public safety at a special event. The bill defines a “special event” as an event that attracts large numbers of participants or spectators in a public or private venue. Special events include concerts, marathons, fireworks displays, community celebrations, festivals, dignitary visits, sporting events, and holiday gatherings.
Municipalities and public and nonpublic schools are to comply with the protocol developed under the provisions of the bill, unless the Governor deems that the protocol is no longer necessary.”
Currently, the way security is conducted for private, public events differs from location to location, across the U.S. We spoke to the owner of a private security company in Los Angeles about his experience and his approach to safety and security at events. His recent large event clients include the Republican National Committee, various Oscar parties (this is Hollywood, after all), large festivals at central parks, in addition to VIP protection and private accounts. According to Mr. Shlomo, other than the required permits to pull for various elements of an event such as parking, vendors and the like, there are no standard security protocols. Clearly, the requirements are contingent on the specifics of the event, if it’s private or public, the location, etc. Depending on the nature of the occasion, his security team may deal with law enforcement, homeland security, the secret service and TSA (for bag checking). But generally, it is up to his team to proactively plan in detail both threat mitigation (set security rings, be aware of threats to the environment, establish communication with as many stakeholders as possible…), safety (does everyone know the location of the fire extinguishers?…) and response (evacuation plans, first aid…).
A mandate can give authority but also dictate policy, a specific course of action. A standardized approach that mandates specific precautions and procedures for everyone involved in securing a public event seems basic enough, doesn’t it? Indeed, one wonders why it is not yet the case in so many communities. Is your community prepared?