Sunday night’s attack on a country music festival in Las Vegas has prompted local authorities to evaluate how well they protect such “soft targets.”
Wake County Sheriff Donnie Harrison said that Red Hat Amphitheatre in downtown Raleigh brings a unique set of risks.
“Anytime you have buildings where people can get on top of, or in, it’s more of a challenge,” he said. “We do have people watching when we have venues like that, when we have outdoor buildings around. We have undercover people that are working, but you can’t watch every window.”
Jim Reese, head of global security firm TigerSwan, understands how vulnerable outdoor venues can be.
Reese’s company has worked with major rock stars like the Rolling Stones and Jennifer Lopez. He said the first thing they do is an assessment of the concert venue. It starts on stage.
“That place starts as your X, then you work your way out, in what we call concentric rings of security,” he said.
His group employs technology to scope out what he calls anomalies, things that raise red flags.
“There’s different types of cameras. There’s sensors if someone passes by that shouldn’t be there,” Reese said.
Private security firms typically pair up with local law enforcement agencies in securing outdoor venues, but Harrison and Reese acknowledge that nothing is foolproof.
“If you’ve got somebody, whether it’s a terrorist, whether somebody who’s just lost it, or somebody who wants to prove a point or make the news, if they are willing to give their life, it’s going to be hard to stop that person before they do damage,” Harrison said.
“The problem is you can’t secure everything,” Reese said. “The best deterrent is yourself and the public. You’ve got to keep your eyes open.”