Los Angeles

After Las Vegas Tragedy, SoCal Concert Venues Look at Improved Security

Sunday night's mass shooting in Las Vegas has security experts and special event planners reexamining current safety measures, and the resulting changes could eventually mean higher ticket prices.

Fifty-nine people were killed and hundreds injured when a gunman in a 32nd story window of the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino opened fire from above on people attending the Route 91 Harvest Festival at Las Vegas Village, a 15 acre open-air venue on the Strip. The festival is among the growing number of special events being held outdoors, in open spaces, including the Coachella and Stagecoach Festivals held at the Empire Polo Club in Indio and the FYF Fest at L.A.'s Exposition Park.

Open-air events pose unique challenges for security experts, says Jeff Zisner, president and CEO of Aegis Security & Investigations, a Los Angeles company that trains security professionals.

"You're dealing with a mass amount of people, you're dealing with traffic, and you're dealing with people coming in and out of the space that's not typically meant for [special events]," Zisner told the NBC4 I-Team.

It's not just concerts that raise security concerns: the Music Center's New Year's Eve Party in Downtown L.A.'s Grand Park and the annual Halloween Carnaval in West Hollywood, which draw tens of thousands of revelers, also pose unique challenges for planners, security teams and local law enforcement.

In the wake of Sunday's tragedy, the L.A. County Sheriff's Department's West Hollywood station said it will take a closer look at its security plans for the Halloween Carnaval, now just weeks away.

"The Music Center Security team continually monitors and responds to any credible threats and adjusts [its] plan [for the Grand Park New Year's Eve event] as needed," a Music Center spokeswoman told the I-Team.

A Los Angeles Police Department spokesman said long-standing plans to respond to any kind of mass shooting are already in place, and that events in Las Vegas won't change the way officers are currently deployed. However, he added that the LAPD is communicating with private security partners that are safeguarding certain locations or events, and offering assistance where needed.

But Zisner says the Las Vegas shootings underline the need to consider bold new strategies to safeguard attendees at all open-air events. He says some venues are considering setting up a perimeter around big events, with security checkpoints, similar to those at Los Angeles International Airport.

"Everybody gets touched, everybody can get screened, everybody can get metal detected," he said. "Everybody can be spoken with."

He also says special event security teams could be trained in "behavior detection," a tool long used by El Al Israel Airlines. The tactic involves screening, sometimes questioning, all individuals who are entering a protected area.

"You are looking for the person who doesn't fit," said Zisner. "Those are the people you want to pay attention to."

Another concern in the security world: the threat of drones being used to drop explosives or toxic substances on event crowds. While "anti-drone" technology exists, it's in early stages and would be expensive to implement.

But increasing event security measures in any meaningful way will cost serious money, Zisner says, which will likely have a financial impact on concertgoers.

"You're going to see security fees being tacked onto ticketing fees," Zisner predicts.

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