During a webinar titled “Exhibition & Venue Security: Protecting Mass Gatherings,” Flynn and other experts detailed the shifting event threats that come from economic and social unrest. Hosted by the Exhibit Service Contractors Association and the International Association for Venue Management, the online session outlined the new motivations and methods of potentially violent actors along with the ways planners can work with venue management and local authorities to protect lives and property.
Flynn said that with so much happening across society in the 14 months since the pandemic began in the United States, organizers cannot simply refer back to the security manuals from their past in-person events. First, the possibility of a lone individual committing a violent or disruptive act has risen because of economic upheaval and layoffs—conventions and trade shows are a convenient target for retaliation, he noted, while the recent spate of mass shootings across the country could further motivate a potential actor.
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“Event staff and venue staff must be trained in identifying people who exhibit unusual behavior and in using de-escalation techniques with a potentially violent person. Also, everyone on the team must know the protocol for alerting others and responding to alerts if anyone sees something suspicious.”
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