Security & Business Resilience / Trends Column

No Dodging Risk

Baseball Stadium

For those of you who do not know the name, Bryan Stow, I encourage you to learn about him and how disrespect for all things related to risk management and resultant poor security programs should be a lesson to those that approve your budget. Stow is one of the reasons Frank McCourt lost control of the Los Angeles Dodgers (no relation by the way...the Dodgers are not my fault).

Stow is a San Francisco Giants season ticket holder and father of two, who attended a Giants at Dodgers game, wearing a Giants jersey. After the game he was beaten by several Dodgers’ fans in the stadium parking lot and (as of May 2nd) remains in a medically induced coma in an LA hospital.

Beyond the tragedy, T.J. Simers of the LA Times tells a story of arrogance toward risk, budget cuts and accountability for the safety and comfort of customers and stakeholders and ongoing concerns regarding security at Dodgers Stadium. Last year McCourt fired long-time security chief, Shahram Ariane (he is a 20-year veteran of the U.S. Secret Service) and assigned security to a person with commercial real estate, not security experience. While McCourt called the attack an “isolated incident” and said he was satisfied with security at the stadium, LA Chief of Police Charlie Beck announced that security had been removed from McCourt’s control, noting that fans will see LA police officers upon both entering and exiting the stadium.

Shortly after losing control of security and facing liability over the attack on Stow, Major League Baseball relieved McCourt from control of the team. J. Thomas Schieffer, the Major League Baseball’s appointed monitor, quickly announced the hiring of new security executive, retired Los Angeles Police Department Captain Rich Wemmer. Whatever security personnel and infrastructure budget the Dodgers saved, the resulting risk and loss would appear to be exponentially higher in brand risk and financial exposure. While I used this story as an example of penny-wise pound-foolish risk management, I have also asked Lou Marciani, executive director of the National Center for Spectator Sports Safety and Security, to share a few ideas on the subject.

Mr. Marciani comments:

“People, process and technology are parts of the formula for balancing safety and security with the fan experience. Each event has its own unique risk factors. This was opening day plus rivalry! Risk management and risk assessment are standard practices in all public and private work environments. People act recklessly, foolishly, negligently and criminally. We are only a few minutes between a great game day experience and a violent one, an entertained crowd and a rioting mob. The process should have been started with a game day security plan.  Designing a game day security plan would have implied knowing exactly what risk factors should have been addressed. This cannot be done if risk factors have not been identified.  Without risk assessment, security gets reduced to simply assigning warm security bodies without strategy or design. Or identified that the video cameras at the parking lots are ineffective because of lighting and the number of uniformed police was insufficient based on opening day standards or gathering of threat intelligence.

“My recommendation is a game day security plan. A well-documented game day security plan will permit everyone to be thinking consistently and in agreement with management. The plan should take into consideration the following:

  • Game day environment statement
  • Game scope
  • Game security plan rationale and background
  • Game security and liaison personnel
  • Game communication system and command and control
  • Game schedule and timeline
  • Game security post assignments
  • Venue security equipment evaluation and functions
  • Venue emergency response procedures
  • Game special game day security plan (terrorism, dignitaries etc.)
  • Post game meeting
  • BUDGET”

While Dan Mullin, vice-president of the Department of Investigations for Major League Baseball, leads an excellent security program for the entire league, individual team and stadium ownership must still evaluate and invest in risk mitigation. Learn more about sports security at www.ncs4.com   

Editor's Update: The Stow family filed a lawsuit against the Los Angeles Dodgers and owner Frank McCourt that lists McCourt's "lavish lifestyle" and his "messy divorce" as reasons for why Dodgers Stadium was unable to provide adequate security detail on the night of Stow's beating. The lawsuit claims that the Los Angeles Dodgers are liable for the attack because of their poor track record securing the stadium, which exposed Bryan Stow to "criminal acts of third parties." Also under scrutiny, according to the lawsuit, is the 10-15 minutes it took the stadium security to respond to Stow after the attack immediately happened. 

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