The slightest hint could turn out to be the biggest sign of trouble for those charged with protecting the security and safety of sports fans across the United States.
That’s the message conveyed by professionals with Protecting the Homeland Innovations, (PHI) LLC. Funded primarily through grants from the Department of Homeland Security, PHI strives to identify high-risk individuals who pose potential threats at “soft targets” such as mass transit, non-secure public areas of airports, sporting events, shopping malls, theme parks and many government facilities.
“The benefits gained from the three-day training were a reminder and encouragement to our uniformed officers that the danger is ever-present and to our event staff that they are just as important in keeping our sporting venues safe and enjoyable for fans,” said Rickey Bradley, NCS4 project coordinator.
PHI managing partners and co-founders Robert Bannister and Todd McGhee conducted a three-day training session (Sept. 10-12) at the National Center for Spectator Sports Safety and Security (NCS4) at The University of Southern Mississippi.
The workshops were attended by various security personnel and event staff affiliated with Southern Miss. The sessions included table-top exercises, power-point presentations and related discussions all within the framework of the ProActive Terrorist Recognition and Interdiction Operations and Tactics (P.A.T.R.I.O.T.) System.
“Terrorists and those who intend to do harm at major public venues are often hiding right in plain sight,” said Bannister. “What we stress in our training is the ability to recognize suspicious behavior well in advance.
“The Department of Homeland Security has a new slogan called, ‘See Something; Say Something.’ Well, in our business we are driving home the point that you need to ‘See Something; Do Something.’ ”
“Sporting venues such as football, baseball or basketball games are prime targets for terrorist acts because they are considered soft targets to individuals looking to cause mass destruction in a confined area occupying a large number of people,” said Bradley. “It was critical for PHI to share knowledge with us because their training helped prepare us to recognize behavioral signs that could be the very tip that gives us an advantaging in spotting a potential terrorist act during our sports events.”