Skip to content
Special Events Security Guards
Special Events Security Guards must complete a state licensed training program before they can be assigned to their post. Each state will have their own training program to complete before they receive their certification. All our employees have gone through a stringent background check, drug and alcohol screening, and are required to attend intensive training . This training ensures a quality services to our clients and reduces liability by instilling confidence in our officers to handle situations appropriately.
Special Events Security
In planning and managing major special events, law enforcement must:
Plan for worst-case scenarios—extraordinary crimes, violence by protestors, a possible terrorist
attack, natural disasters—but also be thoroughly prepared to deal with ordinary crimes and
incidents (fights, drunkenness, etc.).
Weigh the security measures that conceivably could be taken (e.g., street closures, searches,
highly visible tactical units) against the jurisdiction’s desire to produce events that are
enjoyable, well attended, and profitable.
Ensure that the event continues safely and at the same time respect Constitutional rights,
including freedom of speech and assembly.
Establish new and effective—but temporary—organizational arrangements, management
structures, and methods of communication.
Ensure that the rest of the jurisdiction receives essential law enforcement services, regardless of
the size or importance of the event.
Ensure that appropriate federal officials, such as DHS State Homeland Security Advisors, are
informed in advance about events with national or international significance to guarantee federal
awareness and possible support.
The guidelines report offers principles for major event planning and management that recognize
these challenges. The most obvious principle—one that many in law enforcement said cannot be
overstated—is that timely, effective planning, communication, and training are critical.
Special Events Security
Pre-event planning should begin 12-18 months before the date of the event, if possible. At the federal
level, pre-event planning may begin two to three years prior to a major special event. Often, major
national and regional events involve multiple federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies.
Additional key partners include fire, emergency medical services (EMS), transportation, public works,
health, and other public agencies and the private sector—businesses affected by the event, as well as
Leadership Authority and Structure
Special Events Security
Governing bodies must define events that require the highest levels of law enforcement attention to
security. For example, the Secretary of DHS, after consultation with the Homeland Security Counsel,
is responsible for designating National Special Security Events (NSSEs). NSSEs are significant domestic
or international events, which, by virtue of their profile or status, represent a significant target, and
warrant additional preparation, planning and mitigation efforts. By definition, an NSSE is an Incident
of National Significance as defined by the National Response Plan.
By Presidential directive, the U.S. Secret Service is the lead agency for the design and implementation
of the operational security plan for the NSSE. The FBI is the lead federal agency for crisis
management, counterterrorism, hostage rescue, and intelligence, and the Federal Emergency
Management Agency (FEMA) is the lead federal agency for consequence management (response and
Many special events are held on private property, with leadership shared among the venue owner/
private security and the local police and fire departments. Even when one law enforcement agency
clearly has the lead and provides most of the resources—a July 4th celebration in a city park, for
example—assistance from other law enforcement agencies may be needed (e.g., sheriff’s office for
prisoner transport, county police for standby tactical support).
Inter-agency Agreement. In multiple agency situations, a simple, straightforward memorandum
of understanding (MOU) or agreement (MOA) should be signed. It is critical to clarify the legal
authority of assisting agencies to enforce the law in the lead agency’s jurisdiction. This may not be
covered by existing mutual aid agreements. For example, the Boston Police Department needed
to involve many other law enforcement agencies to assist with the 2004 Democratic National
Convention, but its existing mutual aid pacts covered only “emergencies” strictly defined as natural
disasters. It needed help from the county sheriff to deputize outside law enforcement officers, military
personnel, National Guard members, and others. The MOU or MOA should also enumerate the
commitment of assisting agencies in providing personnel and equipment; state when and where other
agencies’ officers should arrive and the specifics of their assignments (duty posts, shifts, etc.); and
clarify any compensation for labor costs, expenses, and equipment incurred by the assisting agencies.
Executive Team and Subcommittee Model. Most major event planning begins with creation of an
executive team headed by the overall event security director who represents the lead law enforcement
agency. This team typically involves top command level personnel from all partners in securing the event.
Special Events Security
Identify all functional areas that need to be planned, create subcommittees to handle those
areas, and issue timelines—who will plan what by when.
Review subcommittee operational plans to ensure that they are comprehensive, consistent,
and realistic, and that contingency plans are in place for each major function.
Determine any changes needed in routine policies, practices, or laws (e.g., does the union
contract permit 12-hour shifts to cover a major special event?).
Subcommittees vary depending on the event, but 20 or more responsibility areas may be identified,
including personnel resources; legal issues; communications; intelligence; field operations/venue safety
and security; transportation/traffic; tactical support; fire/EMS/hospital services; prisoner processing;
credentialing; media relations; training; budget and logistics; and after-action evaluation. Additional
areas (especially for NSSEs) include airspace security; critical infrastructure/utilities; hazardous materials/
weapons of mass destruction; consequence management; crisis management; and cyber-security.
Threat and Risk Assessments
The FBI, DHS, and International Association of Assembly Managers are among the organizations
that offer criteria for classifying special events according to threat levels and corresponding security
levels. The FBI uses eight factors to arrive at four Special Event Readiness Levels (SERLs). The SERLs
relate to anticipated levels of FBI support, but the eight factors are relevant to local law enforcement:
size of event; threat (including known threats to the specific event); historical, political, or symbolic
significance; duration; location; cultural, political, and religious backgrounds of attendees; media
coverage; and dignitaries attending.
Key Assessment Areas. Comprehensive threat and risk assessments involve (1) identifying potential
threats, including common crimes (robbery, assault, etc.), fires, vandalism, natural disasters, protests,
terrorism, or gangs; (2) gauging potential damages from such threats (impact analysis); (3) determining
the likelihood that the problems will occur; and (4) developing cost estimates and actions to prevent the
Resources. Guidelines and formulas for conducting threat and risk assessments are available from
DHS and take into account the intention and capability of an adversary, as well as vulnerabilities
(e.g., building characteristics, security practices). The U.S. Secret Service has also developed threat
assessment tools, primarily regarding protection of targets.
Threat and Risk Categories. The main threat and risk categories are (1) harm to persons; (2)
damage to property; (3) loss of revenue for the event and jurisdiction if incidents prevent people
from attending or cause increased expenses; (4) increased liability due to negligence; and (5) loss of
reputation—tourists may not come to the jurisdiction or event again because of problems.
Information Collection. General guidelines for the information collection phase are provided in the
full report, with additional details available from other sources. Briefly, critical tasks are to:
Assign responsibility to experienced, qualified assessors
Review available information (floor plans, utility layouts, maps, aerial photos, evacuation
plans, fire inspection reports, etc.)
Interview event planners in the governing jurisdiction and the event promoters
Obtain threat intelligence information from internal and external sources
Conduct extensive site observations and surveys
Develop detailed participant profiles
Assess the security plans of key event hotels
Examine all forms of transportation that participants will use to travel to the event—
airports, trains, buses, subways, etc.