2018 In Review: Security – Industry Remains Vigilant

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A vigil is seen erected near the Borderline Bar & Grill, a country music bar in Thousand Oaks, Calif., that was the scene of a mass shooting Nov. 7.

The United States suffered more than 320 mass shootings in 2018 – and the concert industry wasn’t spared from the violence, most notably the Nov. 7 shooting at the Borderline Bar & Grill in Thousand Oaks, Calif., that claimed the lives of 13 people including the gunman.

The incident at college night at the country music club was carried out by a 28-year-old former Marine, who shot the venue’s security officer with a .45 caliber handgun then deployed a smoke grenade and shot up the inside of the bar before killing himself.
Borderline has been an active concert venue that in recent months hosted artists including Jerrod Niemann, Rita Wilson and Adam Carolla.
The victims who lost their lives included a cashier at the venue, several students, one of the first responding officers (who died because of friendly fire), and a survivor of the Route 91 Harvest shooting. The October 2017 massacre that left 58 attendees dead and more than 850 wounded is the deadliest mass shooting in modern U.S. history. 
Tragically, the total of 329 mass shootings in the U.S. as of Dec. 10 wasn’t far behind 2017’s astronomical total of 346 mass shootings, according to data from the nonprofit Gun Violence Archive.
“From my perspective it’s getting worse … [More than 50] percent of the mass shootings in the U.S. have been recorded in the last 10 years,” said Mike Downing of Prevent Advisors (a counter-terrorism and security firm owned by Pollstar’s parent company, Oak View Group).
Downing said one of the main things to take away from recent attacks was that more thought should be given to first-response procedures, and referenced an outside analysis of the response to the suicide bombing outside an Ariana Grande concert in Manchester, England, in 2017 that killed 23 and wounded 139. 
The Kerslake report highlighted different concerns about first-response practices, primarily that it took two hours for the Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue Service to arrive on the scene on the evening of the attack. 
During the “From Manchester to Route 91: What Have We Learned?” discussion at Pollstar Live! in February, Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department undersheriff Kevin McMahill underscored the need of local police to work with event organizers and concert venues. “We don’t spend enough time in the prevent realm,” McMahill said. “As law enforcement, we have been struggling for a very long time on how we can be effective on this prevent mission. I think the key really relies on folks like yourself,” he said, referring to the audience of concert industry professionals. 
Ahead of the Grammy Awards, the State Department and European Union Officials hosted an all-day training session for artists in attendance, marking the Recording Academy’s first off-site briefing to provide counterterrorism training directly to musicians. 
Dan Donovan, vice president of sports and entertainment for T&M Protection Resources, spoke to VenuesNow about how the company’s approach to security has been refined since the Manchester attack. 
“We have added measures to increase our security posture, presence and procedures from knowing more about the individuals inside of our venues and event perimeters, hardening our perimeters, examining delivery procedures and increasing off-duty law enforcement presence.”
A few events were called off in 2018 because of security concerns including a bomb threat at a Rascal Flatts concert in suburban Indianapolis that resulted in the band’s August show abruptly ending, as well as a May performance from Life of Agony in Las Vegas being canceled after a fan threatened mass violence. 
One security issue experts at Prevent Advisors are following is the weaponization of Unmanned Aircraft System (UAS) Drones, which are already being used by terrorist organizations outside of North America and Europe. 
Downing said there is technology capable of neutralizing much of the threat, but venues are currently prevented from using it by law, and he fears it will only be after a crisis that action is taken. 
One form of technology the concert industry has begun to embrace is facial recognition, with Ticketmaster announcing in May that it was investing in facial recognition company Blink Identity with plans to incorporate the tech into its Ticketmaster Presence initiative.
Microsoft is requesting that governments regulate facial recognition in hopes of preventing it from becoming a tool for discrimination, an intrusion into people’s privacy or surveillance.