Rogers discusses the challenges of keeping spectators safe.
February gave us Super Bowl XLIV and the XXI Olympic Winter Games, two of the most daunting sports venue security challenges imaginable. Meanwhile, at the International Association of Assembly Managers' eighth Academy for Venue Safety & Security, attendees put knowledge obtained over seven days of training to the test during so-called "war games" - pitting designated security "aggressors" against venue "defenders." Paul Steinbach asked AVSS faculty member Chris Rogers, senior consultant and director of risk control for Aon Entertainment Group, an insurance brokerage firm that has served virtually every high-profile sporting event, including Super Bowls and Olympic Games, about real-life risks facing today's sports venue security managers.
Q: What is your personal involvement with these events?
A: My responsibility is to help our clients with obtaining permits and with OSHA compliance, as well as with best practices for mitigating their risks - everything from mundane slip-and-fall types of exposures to terrorist attacks.
Q: Have circumstances ever forced you to say to yourself, "We should have seen that coming"?
A: You always get challenged, and every time you institute a risk-management technique, there's the potential that those who are seeking to do you harm will figure out a way around it. Conversely, it's often very difficult to take credit for things that don't happen.
Q: What's the biggest challenge facing security managers?
A: Complacency, because nothing has happened in a number of years. Right after 9/11, security managers could get the extra staffing and equipment that they needed. But as we get further away, those things become more of a challenge again. You can go into one stadium or arena and find they do a very good job of pat-downs and bag searches. Then you go to another and there's not quite the same intensity; they've adopted a feeling that, "Those things just aren't going to happen here." So the biggest challenge that security managers face is getting people to understand that there really is a reason to do this.
Q: Do you envision a day when full-body x-ray scanning will be used at sporting events?
A: Those kinds of discussions are going on right now. Do we want to do that? It will depend on the event itself and whether we've had any credible intelligence that something may be going on. It's on the table, that's for sure.
Q: How has the approach to venue security changed during your 30 years in the industry?
A: In the past, security was something you wanted to keep in the background. You didn't want to make a big deal out of it. Now, in some cases, it has become a marketing tool: "If you hold your event at our facility, I can demonstrate to you that we have some of the best-trained security personnel and plans available."