Venues & Risk Assessment

Since the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001, venues and facility management companies have trained their staffs to be more vigilant on security matters – like potential car bombs, chemical attacks or suicide bombers – and they are better trained on how to respond.

But more could be done, according to Paul Vereline, director of security for the non-profit International Counter-Terrorism Officers Association. Vereline, who also works with security firm Spearman Consulting, has spent the last several years providing risk assessment for clients in the entertainment industry.

According to Vereline, one thing is universally lacking: training in behavioral indicators.

“Security is on a whole other level right now,” Vereline told Pollstar. “You need the guys who know what to look for. When a suicide bomber is inside (a venue), there are several indicators and your regular security guy will not know what to look for.”

The former NYPD officer and member of the city’s counter-terrorism bureau said there are several ways to identify a suicide bomber or other threatening patron.

“From all the training we’ve received and the terrorists we’ve caught, before they’re ready to do something, you’ll see a very nervous person – sweating, maybe blindly staring, talking to themselves,” Vereline said.

It seems obvious, but the terrorism expert says otherwise.

“I’ve got to be honest with you. At a show, if you see somebody talking to himself, who’s gonna care? We’ve sat and watched numerous tapes on Al-Qaida training and how they train and what they do but the bottom line is, regardless of what they believe their reward is for suicide bombing, they’re scared to death. That’s a couple (of indicators) right off the bat that are huge and nobody pays attention to.”

Security consultant Mike Spearman stressed that risk assessment – including a plan for egress during emergency – could make a big difference financially if an attack results in a lawsuit, and could help with insurance rates.

“You don’t just train your security,” Spearman said. “You train your grips, you train everybody who can be involved because everybody is going to have to help.”

— Joe Reinartz