Educating Sports Fans for Positive Security
MetLife Stadium, home of the NY Jets and NY Giants and a venue for other sporting and concert events, is cracking down on unruly fan behavior in a big way. Anyone who is ejected from the stadium not only has to pass a code-of-conduct class before being allowed to attend another game, but also write a letter of apology to Danny DeLorenzi.
DeLorenzi is the Director of Security & Safety Services for the stadium, a position that he has held for the past three years. In August, he will receive the “Professional of the Year” award from the National Center for Spectator Sports Safety and Security at the University of Southern Mississippi.
So how does an unruly fan get back into “good graces” with you?
When we first started ejecting people for bad behavior, we tried to figure out the process for letting them back in. First, we decided that they need to acknowledge it and apologize for it. Next, I thought about my past experience in the police force and realized that positive discipline is best. I found a psychologist who developed a four-hour online class that discussed the negative aspects of drinking too much alcohol. I then wove that into the NFL fan code of conduct, which is drinking responsibly and allowing other people to have a good time at a football game. So anyone who is kicked out of our stadium takes the class for $75 (part of the money goes to MADD). Beyond that, if someone refuses to take the class, we distribute their photo to our stadium staff, including the ushers, and if we see them, we arrest them for trespassing. One of the underlying theories is that a fan will go through the process if they come to games often, and that’s good because we don’t want people back every week if they are going to cause those problems. Last year we expanded the program to include a two-hour class on disruptive behavior, on how to control what you say and do and not offend other people at games. That money goes to the Boys and Girls Club of America. I don’t see a penny of the money from these classes. It’s not a fundraiser for me at all. The real benefit comes when some people tell me that it was an eye opener for them. And their attorneys convey that same message, as well.
How did your career in security begin?
Why did you decide upon this profession?
I was with the Newark, N.J., police for 17 years, going through all of the ranks and ending in a deputy chief role. I left the police department to work as a security director for a large corporation that was building commercial properties in Newark. I eventually worked for Howard Safir (former NYC Fire and Police Commissioner), where I had the opportunity to design some of the police, fire and EMS plans and counterterror methods for new construction in the NYC area, one of which included the new MetLife Stadium. I also joined the fire department in my hometown. My job is to make sure that these agencies (police, fire and EMS) work well together, not only on game day but how we plan for emergencies, to ensure that we have enough resources, personnel and equipment. It’s not us versus them. It’s us with them.
What do you like about your position?
It’s funny; I could be standing on the 50-yard line behind the Jets or Giants bench on game day and have no idea of what’s going on the field. Sometimes I can’t even tell you the final score. My favorite part, at the risk of sounding corny, is that I feel like I’m doing everything I reasonably can to protect the 80,000 people that attend a game, in addition to sports and the American way of life on Sundays. After 9/11 we saw how sports and American life was affected, and it’s my hope to help make sure that doesn’t happen again.
What will be your greatest challenge this year in your role and why?
We are hosting the Super Bowl in February 2014, so what we do, part of what drives us to be as perfect as possible, is implementing new procedures to make that day flawless, to make ourselves to be on our ‘A game’ for that day. If we keep that goal in mind for the next two years, we will continue to get better, and we will be ready. And I think that we will. For example, we employ around 500 security guards in-house. We train them ourselves. They are our employees, and we treat them well. That training program is a huge opportunity for me to communicate my philosophy and my leadership, so I look forward to that this year.
What do you like to do in your free time?
I don’t have any free time. This year, I was busy with the NFL playoffs, and then I spent February, March and April rewriting emergency and game day plans and the training curriculum for this year’s season. And now we are in concert and soccer season. But I hope to get to Cabo San Lucas soon.