Security increases at local music festivals

BY KELLEY HUSKEY

ARTS AND ENTERTAINMENT EDITOR

Riverside County Sheriff’s Department patrol Coachella Valley Music and Arts festival

Photo Courtesy of OC Weekly

In the wake of events that have taken place at concerts over the last two years, and with the Coachella Festival less than six months away, it is imperative to consider changes to security to prevent future tragedy and to ensure concertgoers’ safety.

Goldenvoice, the event company that organizes and plans the festival, works closely with Indio Police Department and other local law enforcement agencies to deliver the safest festival environment possible. Those involved include the FBI and Department of Justice, as well as contracted security and medical services.

According to Indio Police Sgt. Dan Marshall, “We are aware of what goes on in our country, in our world, and we do apply that to Coachella but we also ask for assistance too. If they (the public) see something, we want them to say something to help us in ensuring that we have a safe and enjoyable venue.”

Dave Brooks, founder and executive editor of Amplify, an online magazine about the live entertainment industry, advises “The company that does security for the festival is…constantly thinking about mass-casualty shootings and active shooters. They’re always preparing for that worst nightmare scenario.”

Those involved in festival security planning agree that public safety information must stay close to the vest and not be publicized. “A security plan is there for a very specific reason and certain aspects of it need to remain confidential because you’re talking about safety and if it is completely transparent, and you have a lone wolf with access to that information, what do you think they can do with it? It can have a very, very negative impact on it” said Waco Hoover, co-founder and CEO of XLIVE, who provides guidance and resources to the festival community.

Security at Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival

Photo Courtesy of Google Images

The future of increased festival security is certain yet unknown. Jeff Zisner, president and CEO of Aegis Security, a company that trains security professionals, predicts that security checkpoints, similar to those at airports, will be in place in the near future. “Everybody gets touched, everybody can get screened, everybody can get metal detected,” he said. “Everybody can be spoken with.”

On Oct. 1, 2017, a lone gunman shot more than 580 people from the vantage point of the 32nd floor of Mandalay Bay Resort Casino in Las Vegas. Bullets rained down on a crowd of 20,000 concertgoers attending the Route 91 Harvest Festival, killing 58 and injuring more than 500. This has been declared the deadliest rampage in American history.

Less than five months prior to the Las Vegas event, a suicide bomber in Manchester, UK detonated an explosive device, killing 22 and injuring 59.

On Nov. 13, 2015, 89 were killed when three men, armed with guns, grenades and suicide belts, opened fire on concertgoers at Eagles of Death Metal concert at the Bataclan in Paris, France.

Eagles of Death Metal’s lead singer Jesse Hughes, a Palm Desert native, posted a message on Facebook the day after the Route 91 event: “I am praying for those who were killed and for those who were injured in Vegas, especially for those who stopped to help friends and gave their lives to do so!”

“We have 125,000 visitors at Coachella. That’s a quarter of a million eyes. If you see something, say something. We want people to enjoy their time at the festival. Public safety is our absolute number one priority,” said Marshall.

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