Experienced event organizers know that hiring off-duty police officers is a valuable precaution that promotes deterrence and risk mitigation. Neglecting to find adequate security personnel may be one form of inadequate planning. While no one wants to think of worst-case scenarios for a major event, organizing committees must consider such concepts, then take action to prevent them from coming to pass.
It's clearly better to consider event security — and the safety of all attendees and staff members — well before the fact, rather than having to respond to an emergency situation with inadequate preparations in place. A qualified security provider can assist in a pre-event security assessment to help determine the number and placement of the appropriate security personnel. Some venues might be best served with a combination of security guards and off-duty police officers, for example.
Event security is multi-faceted
When thinking of all the things that can go wrong at a large gathering, a complex picture reveals itself. Any event with large crowds is a potential target for malicious individuals who want to hurt others. A fight in a crowd, an attempt to harm a single person, an indiscriminate effort to strike many people — these are among the terrifying possibilities that can spiral out of control quickly. The importance of having off-duty police officers on-site to deter any such actions, either through responding or discouraging trouble with their mere presence, is clear.
Should a problem occur at an event, the difference between having enough security personnel on hand and not doing so can be massive, both at first and afterward. As an example, a recent Associated Press story notes that there is an ongoing lawsuit stating that the Kansas City Chiefs did not provide adequate security at Arrowhead Stadium in 2013, at which time a fight in the stands escalated and several injuries resulted.
Event organizers will easily be able to imagine themselves in the role played by the Chiefs organization here. A bad situation that spirals out of control can lead to accusations and recriminations quickly if there are not enough personnel on the scene to stop it in a timely and peaceful manner.
Sporting events are a model example of an event that needs a large security presence, due to the large crowds. Since they recur on a regular schedule, teams and stadium operators can plan far ahead to prepare adequate security teams. Organizers of one-off events or ones that happen only a few times a year must not let this need pass them by, either. A music festival, road race, parade – any of these could be fun for a community, or turn dangerous without enough security on hand.
Security guards vs. off-duty police officers
All events are different and so are the security concerns. Some venues are best served with a full contingent of off-duty police officers and some venues are fine with a combination of security guards and off-duty police personnel. The security guards have no special powers of arrest and are responsible to merely "Observe and Report." Security guards have far less training, are less able to diffuse situations, and have much less of a deterrence factor.
Hiring off-duty officers is easy
When event organizers work with an organized third-party partner, one with a team of fully insured police officers ready to step into off-duty security roles, the whole process of hiring these officers becomes simple. Insurance is key, so that the companies in need of security do not take on undue risk in the event that an officer is injured in the course of his or her duties.
Working with police from the local community in their off hours can have many benefits for event organizers. These individuals have received law enforcement training and are familiar with their communities, ready to protect them in either a uniformed or plain-clothes capacity. Events that arrange for off-duty police officers to serve as security staff can gain the peace of mind that comes from these keepers of the peace serving as a line of defense for the gathered crowds.
Trying to create a security team structure can cause headaches for event organizers: working out schedules, ensuring the approved status of each individual, securing liability coverage. This is the main reason to go through an expert third party, one that is insured and ready to perform all relevant scheduling functions.
Taking this quick and efficient step before an event gets underway is a decision where the value will become most clear in hindsight. Once the crowds have gone home following a successful event, organizers can ask themselves what would have happened if something had gone wrong, and there hadn't been enough security personnel on hand.