break-in gone wrong. While stadium security nationwide has increased,
security in parking lots after big events has been largely ignored.
Sunday after a Kansas City Chiefs football game is heightening
awareness of a what experts call a gap in domestic security: parking
lots before and after major events.
For years, event producers and venue owners have concentrated their
resources on providing security inside the venue, which is considered
a much more controlled environment, largely ignoring the parking lots
“They continue to ignore the parking lot, which then can become a no
man’s land when it come to safety and security. We see this
constantly,” says Paul Wertheimer, founder of Crowd Management
Strategies, based in Los Angeles.
Kansas City police say three men are in custody following an
altercation involving a car break-in gone wrong in the stadium parking
lot. On his Twitter feed, Kansas City Police Chief Darryl Forte said
the “incident did not involve any fan rivalry.” The death is being
treated as a homicide.
The increase in security measures at airports, shopping malls, and
rail stations, has already raised questions about whether Americans
are sacrificing too many civil liberties for their own safety. But Mr.
Wertheimer suggests that parking lots, which attract tens of thousands
of people, need to have camera monitoring and regular patrols “before,
during, and after the event.” Too often, he says, security teams
disperse soon after the event is over.
Costs clearly come into the equation, he adds.
“It costs money and nobody wants to pay it,” Wertheimer says. “It’s
not that the live entertainment or professional sports [organizer] doesn’t know these things happen. My assessment is they make a
calculated decision that they don’t want to spend the money.”
According to “Spectator Violence in Stadiums,” a 2008 report by the
Center for Problem-Oriented Policing, a division of the U.S.
Department of Justice, the four most common problems encountered among
stadium staff in incidents of off-field violence are lack of
“training, experience, presence, and communication.”
“In general, venues that employ staff with little training and
experience, fail to provide an adequate number of personnel, and do
not provide personnel with clear directives and lines of communication
are more likely to experience problems with spectator violence,” the
Private security companies are “less effective” than venue personnel
because they are often hired to police single events and are
unfamiliar with venues. Plus, they often lack the training necessary
to “manage crowded parking environments” or lines that form due to
day-of-game giveaways or other promotions that are common at sporting
The death at Arrowhead Stadium is not an isolated one in Kansas City.
Last December, Chiefs linebacker Jovan Belcher killed himself outside
the stadium in front of his head coach and other team officials. Last
September, a man shot and wounded a woman and then killed himself in
the parking lot outside a Kansas City Royals game.
More recently, on Thanksgiving, a man was beaten unconscious outside
AT&T Stadium in Dallas following a game between the Dallas Cowboys and
the Oakland Raiders. In September, a Los Angeles Dodgers fan was
fatally stabbed outside AT&T Park in San Francisco; that incident
followed days after a man received a severe beating outside
Candlestick Park where the San Francisco 49ers played.
After the stabbing, the San Francisco Police Department announced it
would increase its presence at the ballpark. “The rivalry needs to
stay out on the ball field, not in the stands, and not on the street,”
Sgt. Danielle Newman told the local ABC News outlet.
For obvious reasons, alcohol consumption is often a focus, especially
since tailgating takes place hours before and after games.
“Unfortunately, a lot of fans drink before they even arrive inside the
stadium… most of the drinking occurs in the parking lots,” says Eloy
Nuñez, a criminal justice professor at Saint Leo University near
Tampa, Fla., who served as the principal planner of security at Super
Bowl XLI in 2006.
Dr. Nuñez says even though sports complexes try to cut down on violent
behavior by selling beer in soft containers and stopping sales early,
“there is no foolproof way to screen all intoxicated fans.”
Another problem, he says, is the relative ease with which fans can
smuggle their own alcohol through the gates. “That practice cannot be
stopped 100 percent without resorting to more invasive searches, which
is not likely,” he says.