Special Event Security and the Garland Texas Incident

Special Event Security and the Garland Texas Incident

May 5, 2015 – Jeffrey A. Hawkins

As of this writing information is still being gathered regarding the attack on an event by two-armed gunman with possible ties to ISIS in Garland Texas.

Regardless of how you feel about the organizer of the event and their motives, security personnel and all organization management, which rent out their facilities for events, need to look at this very carefully.

From a preventative standpoint it appears that the organizer and law enforcement did all the right things.

The organizer reportedly paid upwards of $30,000 for security, including metal detectors, unarmed security, and off-duty police officers.

The building management where the event was held was obviously confident in their decision to rent out their facility, knowing the risks of such an event.

I would be curious to hear the details of the contract for the event and the discussions that took place beforehand.

Over the last two decades many institutions have discovered that renting out their facilities is a very good revenue generator by utilizing the building or part of their property when it would normally be closed.

From a business standpoint, this is a good idea – why not generate revenue when the building would normally sit empty?

So museums, zoos, botanical gardens, historical properties, municipal buildings, schools, and even churches are now in the special event business, but few truly understand how complicated this venture is and how much liability it carries if not handled properly.

Having coordinated security for hundreds of events in very different settings for very different groups, I was always amazed at how shocked the organizers of events (any events, not just the high risk events), were when we determined the minimum security measures that would be required and how much it would cost.

What has always shocked me was how many organizations rent out their facilities without addressing security, specifying exact use of the facility, outlining restrictions, requiring insurance and hold-harmless agreements, and determining security costs.

The Garland Texas attack was luckily stopped because of what appears to be advanced security planning before hundreds of people could have been injured or killed.

But every organization that allow special events, no matter how benign they appear, should learn from this incident that events are not just revenue generators, they are risks.

I have a feeling most do not take such factors into consideration.

Jeffrey A. Hawkins is a senior public safety/security professional with over 30-years of diverse experience working for profit, not-for-profit, and government organizations on a local, regional, and global level.

Hawkins is a former law enforcement supervisor who transitioned into the private security sector serving as Chief Security Officer in the pharmaceutical, health care, cultural properties, religious, and corporate industries. Hawkins graduated from the Chicago Police Academy and has over 1,000 hours of training in the areas of security, law enforcement has a B.S. degree in Business Administration, and an M.S. degree in Management. He graduated from the Chicago Police Academy and has over 1,000 hours of training in the areas of security, law enforcement, and emergency management with such specialty agencies as the FBI, Northwestern University School of Police Staff and Command, and counter terrorism agencies in Israel.

Hawkins is a media authority on the topic of security and public safety and frequent speaker across the country. For more information, visit: https://jeffreyhawkins.net