As the first anniversary of the September 11 terrorist attacks approaches, there is some concern that an "anniversary attack" could occur on or around that date this year. Security experts say now is the time for planners to make sure that events held on or around September 11, 2002, feature highly visible, top-notch security measures.
"Anniversaries of certain political happenings or events always throw up red flags," says Jurg W. "Bill" Mattman, president of Mattman Security Management Consultants, Murrieta, Calif. "If I had an event scheduled for September 11, 2002, I would have extra security that's highly visible. A major reason is that [visible] security calms people down. Be it a hockey game or a corporate meeting, people will want to see more security on that day-it just makes them feel better."
Kevin Mellott, founder and c.e.o. of Dallas-based security-consulting firm Erase Enterprises Inc., says the question isn't so much whether companies should increase their security for September 11, 2002 meetings, but whether they had any kind of security procedures to begin with.
"An event needs to have four basic security measures in place as a matter of course: good intelligence, access control, highly qualified security personnel, and an emergency management plan," Mellott says. "I think it's safe to say that most events don't have anything near these four steps-let alone security that's ratcheted up."
Rick Werth, president of Event and Meeting Security Services, Franklin, Tenn., urges planners to start planning immediately to ensure that risk assessments are carried out, that proper, effective security measures are in place, and that their event includes an emergency management plan.
"That should be part of any event anyhow," he says. "Planners have to play through the worst-case scenarios and how they're going to deal with them. Air traffic is shut down in the area-what do we do? We have to evacuate because of a bomb threat-what do we do? Planners are going to have to assure attendees, starting about now, that measures are being taken to assess any risks and provide appropriate security."
Look for a detailed report in the July issue of Corporate Meetings & Incentives on what planners should do to ensure maximum event security.