After the recent developments at Pulse Nightclub in Orlando, it made me really think long and hard about security at the 50-500 person private event and its security. I do NOT claim to know anything about security, so I want this blog to lead to more discussion and hopefully unify some folks at least around how to protect a large group of people who would be considered a ‘soft target’ by some deranged lunatic. Here is an open ended list of things that I feel like should be protocol for any special event, wedding, or private gathering. This is not meant for public places that an invitation is not required. I also am directing this at situations from basic theft to awful tragedies.
- I think the single biggest no brainer is to hire an officer of the law to be uniformed, armed, and PARKED at your event. While most event venues in the Knoxville area require this when alcohol is being served, I think this should happen for all events. The cost for an officer for the event is probably under $200 and makes this a must. Officers generally can help a non-security professional like a DJ understand safety procedures. A parked police cruiser at a venue could act as a deterrent. The armed and uniformed officer, while serving as a deterrent, also serves as a person who can legally act to protect you and your guests. A lot of the officers I come into contact with are pleasant, helpful, and smiling. If the officer’s presence makes someone uncomfortable, my stance is ‘GOOD’. Protect the property that is for rent, the property that belongs to the renter, and all the people associated with the event.
- Since this blog is directed at private events, the presence of anyone not invited should be prohibited and that person’s jersey number is 86. While wedding crashing seems harmless, it should no longer be acceptable. Anyone who wanders into the party, be they vagrants or just curious passers-by, should be escorted out quickly and quietly. If this person does not want to leave and security isn’t present, 911 should immediately be called. Anyone who is from the outside compromises safety in some way even if it is just the by-product of event organizers becoming more lax because they do not want to offend someone. The person in question should be immediately vetted by the hosts to insure that a mistake isn’t made, then escorted out and told not to come back.
- At least one party organizer close to the guests of honor should remain sober. This person must be able to work closely with event professionals to make sure the guests’ comfort is not compromised. This person should be able to watch other intoxicated guests to make sure that they aren’t driving, and/or unaware of someone lurking in a dark parking lot who may be trying to get the jump on an unsuspecting party goer. This person must also be aware of valuable gifts, other property including expensive event equipment (including sound equipment) and any other accoutrements.
- Guests entrance into the venue should be funneled through one entrance. All other doors should be locked from the outside. This way, no one can be granted access to a room or building that has multiple entrances. All doors including the main entrance should be locked as the event gets off the ground. Event professionals along with security professionals should have a brief pre-event meeting. They should discuss fire and all other quick exit procedures. In the event of an emergency they will be able to direct people out of a building. An area for people to gather should also probably be discussed.
- A DJ or band leader should have direct access to security in the event of an emergency a large sound system can be utilized to coordinate the guests’ exit and broadcast general information of developing situations to get people into the reality of the moment.
- Check all of the exits to make sure they are not obstructed before and during the event. Make sure they are not chained and that the touch bar/panic devices or any other exit devices are functioning properly. (Hat Tip Jimmy Ogle Sr)
These situations are VERY uncomfortable to talk about and definitely to imagine being in. It is our responsibility as event professionals and hosts to address these things ahead of time in meetings leading up to an event. I believe security is a necessary part of any event planning process. Let’s all be brave, let’s all be smart, and let’s all have coordinated disaster management and take precautions to protect our friends, families, and ourselves.
I invite anyone who wants to add to this list to email me their thoughts and I will add them with credit. Please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org