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National Center for Spectator Sports Safety and Security Grows into Worldwide Leader on Eve of Ninth Conference

Thu, 07/05/2018 - 02:25pm | By: Van Arnold

In the dozen years since its inception, the National Center for Spectator Sports Safety and Security (NCS4) has grown to become a recognized authority in training and education for security professionals across the globe.

In the aftermath of Sept. 11, 2001, the United States Department of Homeland Security identified sport venues as potential soft targets for terrorism. In 2006, The University of Southern Mississippi (USM) established NCS4 in response to the nation's emerging security needs.

Today, NCS4 is the nation's only research center devoted to the study and practice of spectator sports safety and security. It is a cornerstone in the scholarship arena as it represents USM's innovative approach to research, training, and development.

Next week (July 9-12) the center will sponsor the ninth annual National Sports Safety and Security Conference & Exhibition in Louisville, Ky. After eight successful conferences and 12 years of substantial development, NCS4 Executive Director Dr. Lou Marciani finds himself a bit awestruck at the center's stature.

“I did not imagine NCS4 ever growing into a worldwide center,” said Marciani, who conceived the original idea. “Our mission has always been to support the advancement of sport safety and security in the United States. We are constantly seeking input and best practices designed to protect sport venues against threats and attacks.”

NCS4 collaborates with professional sport leagues and venues, intercollegiate and interscholastic athletics, marathon and endurance events, and international sporting events along with professional associations, private sector firms, and government agencies.

Its partnerships bring together subject matter experts from government, industry, public safety, private enterprise, and academia to explore lessons learned and share ideas about best practices, strategies, training and certifications, and technology solutions for sport safety and security challenges.

Marciani notes that a significant benchmark in the center's history occurred in 2016 when NCS4 became partners with the International Criminal Police Organization, better known as INTERPOL.

“The validation of our research, training and professional development came full circle with the INTERPOL agreement,” he said. “The relationship we have established with INTERPOL has provided us a true international influence in the world of safety and security.”

Over the past 12 years, NCS4 has trained more than 8,500 public safety, security and athletic personnel through a series of workshops. More than 50 sport security professionals and more than 17,000 front line event staff have received official certification from the center.

NCS4 also features a wide range of advisory committees that include professional from intercollegiate athletics, interscholastic groups, marathons and running events, private security, and professional sport facilities.

Housed within the center is The National Sport Security Laboratory (NSSL), which exposes practitioners and students to a fully outfitted research, training, and operation center with integrated safety and security technologies.

Marciani points out that many factors reinforce a sport venue or event's ability to provide the highest level of safety and security. Chief among these is advanced technology.

“The addition of technology enhances an organization's capabilities to mitigate risk and enhance response,” said Marciani. “Technology system and solutions provide an additional layer of protection when utilized effectively by knowledgeable and trained staff.”

Marciani cites four key components to making any sports facility or event safer and more secure:

• The development and implementation of solid emergency operation plans (EOP).
• The incident command teams exercising the EOP plans.
• Training the staff to best implement the plans.
• Implementing the prescribed physical security measures to meet the goal in the plans.

The theme for next week's national conference is “Enhancing Situational Awareness in the Sports Safety and Security Industry.” More than 450 attendees and 60 exhibitors are expected representing safety and security professionals in professional sport leagues, intercollegiate athletics, stadium and arena directors/managers, government agencies, private sports security firms, emergency responders, sport facility owners and operation managers. 

To learn more about NCS4, call 601.266.4857 or visit: