Following the nation’s deadliest mass shooting three weeks ago in Orlando, the grim prospect that it might happen again remains on businesses’ radar, even in Colorado Springs.
After 49 people were killed and 53 wounded June 12 when a gunman opened fire in a public nightclub, businesses are concerned about safety.
Are local businesses changing or adding to their security processes?
And what are the best measures for business owners to budget for and enforce to keep their employees and consumers safe?
Dot Lischick, general manager at The Broadmoor World Arena, says the arena keeps increasing its internal security team.
“We have to get familiar with what could happen,” she said. “These shootings certainly bring everything to light. Every crisis that happens in the world becomes a crisis for everyone.”
In order to address elevated concerns, she said security processes at the 8,000-seat arena differ, depending on the event and its audience.
“We bring in different tiers of security for different activities,” she said. “We have our own security but will beef it up to contracted security and then police if needed. We work closely with all levels — including police and local medics — to keep communication open because who’s doing what is critical in a time of emergency.”
The arena is a member of the International Association of Venue Managers, which is a valuable resource for safety and education, Lischick said.
“Through IAVM, you can call buildings where shows have played before and track trends,” she said. “People in the industry talk all of the time because we have to find out what’s going on.”
Arena staff are educated on the building’s layout, first aid methods and also attend active shooter and crowd management training, Lischick said.
“Because you need to know more than just CPR,” she said. “A bullet wound is different than a heart attack; you need to know how to use a tourniquet and how to save someone from bleeding to death.”
Advice for arena customers if a shooting were to occur: Run, hide and fight, Lischick said.
“It can happen anywhere — so if it occurs, try and get away. And if you can’t, hide and turn off your cell phone,” she said. “At least mute it because you don’t want it to go off when you’re hiding; text when the time is right and gather to fight the shooter.”
Security is also tight on days when there isn’t an event at the arena, with parking lot gates, locked doors and cameras capturing visitors’ every move, according to Lischick.
“We do a lot of different things and change our patterns,” she said. “We won’t tell you all of our secrets, but the reality is you’re being watched. If we’re not open, we don’t want you here. It’s private property and we want to make sure it’s secured for your safety and mine.”
And if something looks or feels odd — report it, Lischick said.
“Listen to your gut,” she said. “We need to all be observant but don’t have to stop living our lives. We want you to have a good time at our events.”
Pam Brummit’s business, Colorado Professional Security Services LLC, started in 2008 and offers services for commercial, government and residential establishments in Colorado Springs and surrounding areas.
Its motto is “Security is no longer optional.” The company has 30 employees who patrol malls, schools, dealerships and apartment buildings, but no longer work with nightclubs, concerts or large events.
“We’re always on guard with terrorists because that’s part of our job,” Brummit said. “I feel bad for the victims and families in Orlando. Luckily, so far, nothing like that has ever happened with our company.”
The company uses a variety of methods: Employees can pat down suspicious people, use security wands to detect metals, check bags and provide metal dectectors, if their customers request it.
“It has to be in the contract, otherwise we would be in a lot of trouble,” she said. “We can’t go in as a security company and say, ‘This is what we’re going to do.’”
And most of the company’s clients don’t request strict security, Brummit said.
“Some businesses don’t want to offend customers [and] therefore don’t ask for those measures,” she said. “Typically only nightclubs and theaters ask for that [patdowns, bag checks, etc.] and I no longer service nightclubs because of how rowdy they can get.”
The Colorado Springs Police Department works with the World Arena and other local businesses, providing extra duty officers to patrol special events, including PrideFest scheduled for July 10, said Tim Stankey, CSPD public information officer.
He said officers keep watch for suspicious individuals and activity, and make sure liquor license laws are followed.
“On a day-to-day basis we work with businesses to provide crime prevention tips,” he said. “We have crime prevention officers in every division and they interact with businesses in their areas to address specific criminal patterns or to provide basic tips.”
The CSPD constantly changes its crime response tactics to stay ahead of offenders, he said.
“We see new trends and want to spread the information quickly,” Stankey said. “Usually we see those new trends because someone was victimized.”
Many businesses hire outside security, he said.
“Most of it is preventative but a lot of times if you have someone working in a security capacity, just the mere presence of having someone there who would deal with a criminal situation is going to prevent crime from happening.”
Most Colorado Springs theaters have security and use the police department’s extra-duty officers, Stankey said.
“Does that prevent a lot of crime? I would have to think it probably does,” he said. “Does it mean you’re never going to have any crime there because a police officer is standing in the lobby? No. But I think it’s reasonable to believe that it would reduce it.”
For businesses that enforce pat downs, use metal detectors or wanding, there is a chance they could lose clientele, he said.
“People may not want to go through that type of inconvenience, so you could lose some business,” Stankey said. “In the same breath, I would think you could also gain business — people who may not come to your establishment because they don’t feel safe may now visit because they see that you’re taking extra steps to promote their safety.”
The cost of safety
Ultimately, it’s up to businesses to decide how much they want to spend on preventive measures. Owners have to determine if the cost of a guard contractor, for example, makes sense with projected earnings, Stankey said. According to smallbusiness.costhelper.com, on average an unarmed security guard typically costs between $12 and $20 per hour and an armed security guard costs between $18 and $25 per hour.
“You have to figure out your profit margins,” he said. “This past weekend we worked an event that consisted of 12,000 [to]15,000 people. The cost of what the business paid for security services most likely was less than what they had planned on making — otherwise it wouldn’t have made sense to have the event in the first place.”
But keep liability in mind, Stankey said.
“You’re running a business to make money, however, one big negative event could devastate you,” he said. “There are a lot of factors to take in consideration on whether to provide security at your business or an event.”