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Scoring a touchdown for security.

JESSE ROSE WAS A GOOD KID. AS A high school student, he had most of the same likes, dislikes, and hopes for the future as his fellow classmates in the little, rural mining community of Man, WV. However, events on a Friday evening in December of 1988 would change Jesse's life forever.

On the evening in question, Jesse and some of his friends were walking by Man High School just as the crowd from the basketball game held at the school was leaving. As they passed by, a large commotion caught their attention. Although they had not attended the game and were not sure what was going on, they, like everyone else, stopped to see what the fracas was about.

A large fight was occurring in a parking lot to the rear of the school building where the crowd was attempting to leave the gymnasium. It was just one in a series of confrontations that had erupted throughout the evening's sporting event.

The game that night was between archrivals Logan and Man high schools. In addition to this long-standing rivalry, racial overtones added fuel to the fire. The disruptions got so bad during the game that it had to be stopped until order could be restored. Some school officials felt the entire event was out of control but did little or nothing to change it.

Security for the school's games had been delegated to the chief of police of a nearby town. He was hired to ensure that some of his off-duty officers would be present during the game, for which all were to be compensated.

Their function was to maintain order throughout the game and provide protection for those in attendance. However, it seems the specifics of the security activities were not clear and only loosely put together.

No formal procedures were set up to make certain the school's security needs were adequately taken care of at each game. It was taken for granted that officers would be present and that they would know what to do.

On this particular evening, only the chief showed up to provide security. Following the game, more fights broke out. Due to the lack of traffic control, cars were backed up and unable to exit the area. Students from the home school pounded on the hoods and trunks of the stalled vehicles, challenging the visitors to fight.

At one point, a former student of the visiting school emerged from a vehicle and began to fight with others. Out-numbered, he began to flee though the crowd, pulling out a knife as he ran. After brandishing the weapon, he began to swing wildly at anyone who came near him. He came upon Jesse Rose who, like most others, was just standing and watching.

Although Rose was neither participating in the fight nor making any offensive moves toward the assailant, the knife wielder lashed out and stabbed Jesse in the side of the head. The puncture wound was severe and Jesse immediately dropped to the ground, unconscious.

Complications from the wound caused considerable brain damage. Jesse Rose was injured for life and would never be the same again.

As a result, the aggrieved parents filed suit against the County Board of Education for the school's lack of responsibility in providing adequate protection for the event that night.

The issue was the question of security--adequate security. Their contention was that had proper and adequate protection been provided, the incident involving Jesse would have been averted. THE MATTER INVOLVING JESSE ROSE WAS recently resolved out of court. The plaintiffs received $1.5 million in compensation. While the money will be helpful in providing for Jesse's continued care, it cannot bring back what was lost. Jesse's condition remains unchanged.

This incident is only one example of the problems that can occur at scholastic sporting events. In addition to fights and other violence, thefts from cars, vandalism, muggings, and the like can ruin what would otherwise be an enjoyable time for those attending.

Fans at such events never expect something tragic to happen. School officials are often reluctant or unable to address the issue of security due to a lack of funds, a lack of security knowledge, or both. Also, they do not want to create a police atmosphere.

An attitude such as "It won't happen here or to us" underscores a lack of attention to and preparation in this subject. Nevertheless, once more tragic episode takes place, the damage from it may never be repaired or reversed. This is illustrated in the case of Jesse Rose.

To avoid lawsuits, school administrators should pay particular attention to providing adequate security at school sporting events. This attention requires more than just a token gesture. There must be a demonstrable, good-faith effort toward achieving an adequate level of protection for those attending.

While preventing all threats or incidents may not be possible, the thrust of this effort must be toward lessening the probability of such occurrences.

Suitable protection for such events can be provided without creating a heavy police atmosphere or overburdening budgets. The answer is good planning and preparation, which are the foundation of any good protection program.

In developing and implementing a security program for scholastic sporting events, the following topics should be considered:

* policy and procedures statement

* legal counsel review

* uniformed guard personnel

* teacher liaison

* emergency procedures

* day and night events

* reporting system

* communications

* equipment

* flexibility and adaptability

Policy and procedures statement. A formal, written policy and procedures statement should be established by the Board of Education. This would specify who, what, when, where, how, and why the security program is supposed to operate.

This statement should cover the general topics of the plan as well as each school's special needs for protection. This statement should also designate a particular person (for example, the principal) at each school to be held responsible for compliance.

Legal counsel review. The attorney for the school board should be consulted for input concerning the development of the security program. Such input would encompass a review of

* the general protection scheme,

* parts of it that relate to individual schools and their special needs, and

* any particular shortcomings in the proposed security arrangements.

This is an important phase as it will be the board's attorney who will have to cope with any litigation arising from alleged deficiencies in protection.

Uniformed guard personnel. Security officer personnel are crucial to the success of security at a school sporting event. It is their presence, visibility, and interaction that deter or disrupt potential violence.

Officers must be knowledgeable about their task, report for duty before the event, and be attentive to the situation. They should be posted in strategic locations and be alert for problems.

If contract security is used for the event, a company supervisor should be present to work with the designated school official for overall supervision and direction. Should off-duty law enforcement officers be employed, one officer should be a supervisor for directional purposes.

Also, if off-duty police are used, they should be within their bailiwick. Thus, if arrests for unruly conduct are necessary they can be performed immediately. Otherwise, in some states, off-duty officers outside their jurisdiction would, like contract security officers, have no powers of arrest.

Teacher liaison. It is also helpful to designate teachers to augment security. Their purpose is to spot student troublemakers and discourage their activities before problems occur. Students are usually responsive to this approach and will desist if they realize they are being monitored.

Teachers also serve as an early warning system for security since they may learn of potential problems from the student body prior to an event.

Emergency procedures. Good security planning should include standard response procedures to emergency situations. Whether for responding to a fight, medical emergency, or other incident, procedures should be included in developing the security program.

If possible, emergency medical personnel should be present during events to lessen response time. This is especially important for remote schools.

Security personnel should be well acquainted with the location of fire extinguishers, lighting control panels, emergency exits, and alarm activators.

Day and night events. Consideration must be given to whether the event is during the day or night.

For nighttime events, steps should be taken to ensure adequate lighting for areas through which attendees will be moving. Lighting is needed in all parking areas to lessen the chance of accidents, thefts, assaults, and vandalism.

Reporting system. All occurrences should be documented in writing. That rule applies to medical emergencies, traffic accidents, thefts, and other incidents that occur during the event.

The responding security personnel should complete the report with all the pertinent details of the incident. Time, date, witness statements, and a narrative of what transpired at the incident should all be noted in this report.

This activity is important as a defense should later allegations be made against a school or its officials.

The report form should be tailored to accommodate the various incidents.

Security personnel should be instructed to complete a separate report for the school's records even if an outside agency such as the local police department is called to investigate an accident that occurred following a game.

A disposition and follow-up system should also be incorporated with the reporting system. This will ensure easy retrieval of a report or details of an incident that occurred, such as disciplining students involved in a fracas.

Communications. An important aspect of the security function is communications. It is this element that connects everyone. Communications expedite the response to an emergency, whether it is a large fight or a medical problem.

Reliable walkie-talkies can be easily and inexpensively acquired for this function. In addition, a public address system should be a backup to overall communications. The system should be flexible enough to be used both inside and outside the sporting facility since postgame use will usually be outside.

Equipment. Each school should have equipment to assist in protection activities. Traffic cones, portable barriers, and flashing light units can be valuable aids in crowd and traffic control.

Each security officer should be instructed to have a flashlight, a whistle, and weather gear. This gear can be changed to adapt to different conditions. Bullhorns are another device that may be useful in quelling problems and directing crowds or vehicles.

The equipment should be reviewed frequently to ensure items are available and in good working order.

Flexibility adaptability. The security program should be flexible enough to allow for changes as they occur. It should be reviewed regularly with input from the various school facilities and school board personnel and legal counsel.

It is incumbent on school officials to address the issue of providing adequate security for scholastic events to provide a defense against civil litigation stemming from a tragic episode. In addition, poor preparation undermines community confidence.

Developing and implementing a new security program or upgrading a current one may require the assistance of a security consultant or other protection professional. If this expertise and knowledge does not exist within the school system, an outside source can often provide fresh and objective ideas. Such assistance helps fill in a security program's gaps, the effects of which might otherwise lead to a tragic event.

Richard A. Haynes, CPP, is a security consultant and a captain with the Charleston, WV, police department, where he commands the Investigative Services Division. He is a member of ASIS.
COPYRIGHT 1991 American Society for Industrial Security
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1991 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Title Annotation:planning security systems for school sporting events
Author:Haynes, Richard A.
Publication:Security Management
Date:Dec 1, 1991
Words:1894
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