Security Reminders from an Expert Planner
by Sheri Clemmer
Security for your events should be high on your to-do list when planning. Considering the safety of your attendees begins at the time of site selection and continues from the time they arrive in the city until they are safely on their way back home. During that time, they are YOUR responsibility.
Security follows space assignment in the planning. Once you know where your plenaries, breakouts, offices, meal service, exhibits, any points of sale, VIP guests, etc., will be located, you are ready to work out details of your security deployment.
You may be working with an exclusive provider or may have the option of selecting your own provider. Either way, it is important to know that while they may know your venue better than you do, YOU know your event best.
For example, depending on your venue, the security company may be accustomed to a rowdy sports group with alcohol in the mix. Our religious events draw a different type of crowd with different security needs.
Security is second only to audiovisual expense in our event budget and requires careful planning and execution. Taking the time to prepare a detailed RFP for the providers to bid from will go far toward receiving the best proposal that is most aligned with your needs.
For our largest city-wide events, we actually submit a proposed deployment schedule indicating when and where we would like to see security officers in place. What type of officer is also important.
You will likely have some areas (back of stage entrances or where there is cash exchange, for example) that will require the placement of armed police. Other areas will simply require bag and/or badge checking. Again, YOU know your event and are not obligated to allow the security company to run up the tab on your account by using higher level officers in unnecessary locations. That said, do not skimp on security. Cover your bases well.
Another important thing to remember is to involve your risk management team and your crisis management team in your planning. The risk managers should visit the site and tour it with you with fresh eyes for any hazards or security concerns they may see that you have not noticed. For example, doors leading directly from the exhibit hall to the outside make it easy for someone to steal a laptop or other expensive item. A good risk manager will see this and suggest security be scheduled there during event hours.
Hopefully, you will not need to implement your crisis management plan, but that does not mean you do not need one. I generally request the crisis plans from the venue(s) we will be using for review by our committee and incorporate any unique concerns into our overall plan. Obtaining this document will give you a good start on creating a crisis management plan if you have not done
Developing a relationship with the local police department of the city where you will meet is also advisable. We had a mentally-challenged missing person during one of our city-wide events in 2010. It was such a blessing to have the cell phone number of the local chief of police during that stressful time.
One last thing to remember is to pray over your event. I pray regularly for the Lord to bring to my mind through an individual, an email or text message, or a thought, anything of importance that should not fall through the cracks. He has done this for me numerous times sparing us a difficulty down the road. Pray for God’s hand to be over your event, your attendees as they travel, the staff who will attend to your guests and event needs, the presenters and musicians, and for the intended blessing and great meeting that you have worked so hard to make happen.