Providing security for special events—whether they be quick parades or large-scale celebrations—can task a law enforcement agency for days. Surrounding yourself with people who can provide invaluable support in the preparation and execution of any security plan will help ensure your success.
Avoid myopia when preparing, so you don't leave out people outside of the organization whose assistance and insight will make the event run smoothly.
After you assess the impact of the event on your organization, coordinate with the people or groups that will help you implement your security plan. You'll want to involve the event coordinator; fire and EMS; information technology; public works; the media; and organized volunteers.
1. The Event Coordinator
Events have individuals or groups responsible for preparing and ensuring that things go as planned. They determine when, where, and how such an event will unfold. Be warned that these laymen have expectations about the support provided by your law enforcement agency. These might not square with your own ideas.
It's your job to work with the coordinator to develop a sound initial concept. For example, a parade route shouldn't go down Main Street at the height of rush-hour traffic.With the right preparation, you could pull this off. The more elaborate the parade route, the greater the number of impacted intersections.
The main goal of profit-oriented groups is making money, so they'll want to plan an event that's the most elaborate in your town's history. A commander must curtail these plans beforehand. If an elaborate idea moves forward, be prepared to handle a response if things get out of control. One harebrained idea involved an event planner who wanted to land a helicopter in the middle of a venue. Fortunately, with the help of fire inspectors and zoning gurus, this disaster didn't happen.
The coordinator can be your ally. By working with the coordinator on the front end of an event, you establish a network that lets you know when things don't go as planned. This can prove invaluable when moving resources around and responding during the event. The one call letting you know about an unscheduled dignitary or a delay in the schedule can work to your benefit when handling crowd and traffic control.
2. Fire and EMS
These public safety partners face similar challenges when providing services during a special event. Working with them can help you deal with slow response times, confusion about what's needed where, and access to timely information.
One of my most successful experiments was establishing a joint command center with law enforcement, fire, and EMS. Communicating directly about a call, what the officers have found, and the best route to the scene eliminates confusion caused by a remote dispatch center. These professionals have a clearer understanding about what to expect, what information is needed by responders, and how to quickly get responders on their way without numerous descriptions and requests to dispatch.