December 11th, 2009 10:00 AM
Event security and your kids
Last night, I was “tasked” with taking my 13-year-old daughter and 14-year-old niece to a concert. It was in a small city not far from my house. The area is known for crime and drugs.
It was a “boy band” that we were going to see. I would say the demographics of the crowd were 80% females between 14-16 years old. The majority of the girls were white and from the surrounding areas, not the city.
It seemed like a never-ending stream of mini-vans dropping off girls in groups of 2-5. The parents would just wave and drive off. From the dimly lit side entrance of the venue, you could expect at least a 20-minute wait in freezing temperatures before getting in the door. It was a huge group of kids obviously out of their element texting with their heads down as the indigenous people walked by. Right across the street was a huge, dimly lit parking garage.
Funny that in a state with very liberal concealed carry laws where people usually cite the reason for carrying a firearm is to protect their families; they had no problem dropping their kids off in an unknown area in unknown conditions. Even though there was a lounge for parents to relax during the concert, I would have to estimate that fewer than 5% attended with their kids.
Once in the “bull pen” waiting for doors to open, there were no employees visible. Eventually, a security guard dressed in a black “staff” t-shirt came out and opened the doors. Later, I would see that all staff wore black. There was nobody for the kids to go to if they had an emergency. Unlike any venue I have ever been to before, (I am a huge Dropkick Murphys fan, and attend concerts at these smaller venues often), there was absolutely no security screening. From what I could see, there was also no sign listing prohibited items. They just scanned your ticket and you walked in. Those over 21 had their hand stamped allowing them to drink.
Once inside, the girls were able to move within about 7 yards of the stage. As the room was filling, I took the time to locate the exit that would be best for us in case of fire or other emergency. Personally I feel that fire is the biggest danger in these types of places. The exit I chose and identified to the girls was just off the side of the stage. In an emergency most people are going back towards the way they came in, this would allow us to use the side door. I positioned myself next to a security guard so I could watch the crowd and the girls. If I needed to I could signal them with my small Streamlight flashlight. This would be helpful since from what I could see no security personnel had flashlights.
Now to the security staffing, it was way below what I would have used. To be fair, I can only comment on the bottom level of the three-story venue. During the course of the night, I saw four men wearing black shirts marked with “event” or “staff”. Two guys handled the front, near the band. This should have been a six-man detail. Since the other side of the stage was flush with the wall, there should have been three staff between the barriers and the stage. The two-man team next to me should have been a three-man team. It did not take long to show why. The two guys next to me seemed to have two jobs, dealing with the crowd, and controlling access back stage. About two hours into the show with an opening band playing the first medical emergency took place when a girl passed out. Both security guards immediately moved forward into the crowd and moved her out the back. This left the front of the stage and backstage access wide open. If the third man had been assigned, this would not have been an issue.
Over the course of the night, I saw at least two girls faint. They both appeared to be about 14 and had no adults with them. I had to wonder if the girls had any identification with them, or anything identifying any medical issue. Having a 10-year-old son who is epileptic makes this hit home. Girls would go move about the crowd to get drinks, talk to people etc. Can you imagine if your daughter came back to where she was and could not find her friend that had fainted and been taken out?
How do you think she would react?
After the concert, it seemed that few parents had told their kids exactly where and when to meet them. Again, all these mini-vans parked in the street also present tasty targets for criminals.
Typically events at larger venues are better run that said as a music lover I don’t want anyone to stop attending small venues, which often provide a great experience with the bands. But here are some ideas I have about venue security/control.
· All security staff should be wearing brightly colored shirts that say “Security”.
· All security staff should be wearing search gloves and have a flashlight.
· Staff should be able to communicate with standardized hand signals.
· Access to areas should be controlled with color-coded badges.
· All security staff should be CPR and basic first aid trained.
· When possible, security should be elevated at least a foot above the crowd for visibility, and to allow them to spot problems.
· Staff should be in eye contact with other staff. Easier when you are elevated.
· Every venue should have a conspicuously located list of prohibited items before you enter the building and inside.
· At least a cursory security screening should always take place.
Here are some ideas on your kids attending these type of events-
· Kids under 16 should not attend non-school related crowd events without an adult.
· Explain to your kids that they are responsible for their safety.
· Explain likely threats including fire, accidents, and crime.
· Kids should always carry a light of some kind, especially in these circumstances. Teach them basic strikes with the light.
· A glow stick is an excellent tool for identifying your kid in a crowd.
· Teach your kids to always have a buddy with them and stay with the buddy, no matter what. Make sure their buddy is likeminded.
· Kids should always carry at least their school ID. They should also have tag identifying medical issues and reliable contact information for next of kin. If your kids have issues make sure their friends and friends’ parents are aware of them.
· Pick a detailed object to meet kids at after the event or in case of an emergency. A doorway in not detailed, pick a stop sign, particular fire hydrant etc.
· Most importantly explain to your kids that even when you are having a good time bad things can happen and they need to pay attention.
As a parent, I know it is hard to let kids go. However by talking with them, giving them some education, you can gain peace of mind as they venture beyond your grip. Hold onto them as long as you can.
December 11th, 2009 10:08 AM
Most sheep think a crowd is safe. The wolves won't get you in the herd is their mind set.
Good for you, going and watching. Hope you had ear plugs. Hope you had a witness in case one of those 80% decided you looked like a mark.
The People Think the Constitution Protects Their Rights;
Government See IT as an Obstacle to be Over-come.
December 11th, 2009 10:14 AM
Yet how many of those same parents would have cried, "How could this happen to my baby?" if something bad occured?
You make good points throughout.
My daughter attended ballet class in a seedy section of town, and we never pulled away until she was inside the door. Once, a guy approached her from behind as she walked toward the door, and I was out of the car in an instant. One shout of, "Kelly, get inside!" made her aware of her predicament and made the guy aware I was about to intervene. He immediately reversed directions and walked away. At the same time, I had seen other parents drop their daughters of and drive away without a second thought. The studio finally had to send out a notice with each child asking parents to remain with their children until inside. Go figure.
Last edited by OldVet; December 11th, 2009 at 03:57 PM.
Retired USAF E-8. Lighten up and enjoy life because:
Paranoia strikes deep, into your heart it will creep. It starts when you're always afraid...
"For What It's Worth" Buffalo Springfield
December 11th, 2009 10:52 AM
Well, in the grand scheme of things, for sheeple, herd mentality is a safe way to go. Nature has proven that being 1 in a group of 10,000 is a safe way to survive.
Originally Posted by Jim Macklin
"Democracy is two wolves and a lamb voting on what to have for lunch; Liberty is a well-armed lamb contesting the vote."
-- Benjamin Franklin
December 11th, 2009 10:55 AM
The problem is when the predators are in the herd. The girls got pushed around a little bit by some other girls during the show. It is to be expected. I explained to them that when they are expecting a fist fight they may instead get a rat tailed comb into their eye. Everyone is not raised like they are.- George
December 11th, 2009 11:03 AM
It is a concert for teen girls. The biggest concern of the security guards is the keep the girls off the stage so the act doesn't get disrupted.
By your account if 80% of the people attending were teenage girls, then one would think that the most probable cause for alarm would be excess giggling and being smeared with lip gloss.
If it was a ZZTop concert or something where the average age is between 40 and 65, and a good likelyhood of folks being messed up on dope or liquor, there would be a greater need for security.
Years ago, my wife and I took my nieces to a Billy Ray Cyrus concert at the Oil Palace in Tyler. Ok, it was only because my brother and his wife refused to take them. The only people that were trouble during the conert were the mothers who were acting like fools in front of their daughters. All the teenagers were behaving like they had some sense.
Sure things could have gone worse at the event you went to with your daughter, but ease up a bit, and enjoy the time you spent while they were having a good time. Everything doesn't have to have a well laid out tactical plan.
Just remember that shot placement is much more important with what you carry than how big a bang you get with each trigger pull.
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Texas Hunter Education Instructor
December 11th, 2009 11:20 AM
No it doesn't but obviously you are not used to working with juvenile offenders, episodically girls. Their was obvious alcohol and drug use by some patrons before the show, their were also sexual situations in the crowd.
Believe me that I have been doing this long enough that the thought given to the night did not detract from mine or my daughter's experience.- George
December 11th, 2009 12:16 PM
It's mercop...I wouldn't expect anything less.
Originally Posted by farronwolf
I will though take some of those tips when my little one is born (May), and growing up.
December 11th, 2009 05:15 PM
Great post as usual. My condolences for having to endure the music and all the high pitched screaming ;). Good on you for taking time out for your little girl and niece and, of course, keeping them safe.
December 11th, 2009 07:19 PM
Mercop is right, how easy would it be for a POS to mix in with the crowd posing as a loving daddy in order to gain access to his prey.
Tramplings have happened at concerts brightly colored shirts to help keep command and control would help.
On a side note, a rat tail comb ? Geez, you are old school Mercop. Havn't heard one of those referenced in a while.....I like it
December 11th, 2009 07:35 PM
Brilliant post Mercop. Wish it could be turned into a guest editorial and get reprinted in every newspaper; certainly every paper for parents of HS kids.
It should also be reprinted in the trade journals for the folks who run these events.
I'd also add, that like it or not, the local constabulary has some responsibility to keep an eye on these things and if possible to guide the business owner with security issues. A few real cops assigned to the venue would make a big difference in overall security; especially given the area.
December 11th, 2009 08:17 PM
I wouldn't be dropping my daughters/granddaughters off at a concert...period. If there are those kinds of potential concerns, I'll buy them the music CD/vid, and they can enjoy it at their leisure many times.
The last Blood Moon Tetrad for this millennium starts in April 2014 and ends in September 2015...according to NASA.
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December 12th, 2009 12:15 PM
Staff should be able to communicate with standardized hand signals.
· All security staff should be CPR and basic first aid trained.
I doubt that will ever happen, these guys probably make minimum wage and get hired through a temp agency.
December 12th, 2009 12:20 PM
Long term, the owner puts his life savings and maybe a felony negligence charge on the other side of the ledger by not doing what is right in the first place. There's no excuse to run a place like that with clearly inadequate security personnel in place.
Originally Posted by 98LSWON
December 12th, 2009 02:40 PM
Originally Posted by Hopyard
Originally Posted by Hopyard
I copied and pasted in an e mail to all of mine, with all duly notated recognition to mercop, Hope that was Ok
'Because that's all the ammunition we had.'
Polk Co. Fla. Sheriff Grady Judd
If you want to make God laugh, tell him your plans.
Washington didn't use his freedom of speech to defeat the British, He shot them!
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