Most communities have hosted a festival, Fourth Of July weekend, a car show, or a marathon race – some multi-day event. Many bigger cities that have major league or college sports teams that have won a major championship have experienced a large-scale event at which its officers have needed to be on duty for an extended number of days. If you’re lucky, all of this is done on overtime!
Most of us, however, do not have a great deal of experience working for events that last past a couple of days. This article is not intended to address the anti-LE riots of the past few years, but certain aspects can be applied.
Arizona’s SaddleBrooke 2 golf course – lots of walking and exposure to the weather. (Photo: WikiCommon)
In July 2015, my department was the lead LE agency for a major U.S. golf tournament. The event consisted of pre-and post-event site security in addition to the entire week of practice rounds and the actual tournament. This article is not intended to take away from the incredible efforts that went into the planning and coordination of such an event, as dozens of agencies and hundreds of officers were involved throughout it. I am hoping to help individual officers prepare themselves to make the time spent involved at the event as easy and as fun as possible while still maintaining the professionalism that is required at a world-class event.
Golf courses are wide open and cover long distances, without much shade. Prepare for that. (Photo: WikiCommon)
Here’s the secret to being successful: be as self-sufficient as possible. That means making sure that you (and your partners) have your own food, water, sunscreen, hand warmers, and any other items to make you do not need to rely on someone bringing these things to you. This means being able to take breaks when you want to and not just waiting to be relieved. I’m not in any way advocating leaving your post; just making sure that you and your partners take care of each other, especially as you near the end of the event as everyone grows more and more tired.
During the tournament, I was fortunate to be assigned as part of a two-person, roving patrol. We were assigned a specific section of the course, while our partner team was assigned to another section. There were numerous additional teams assigned other roving responsibilities, as well as to static posts at every entrance and major point on the course. My partner and I’s job was to “be available” to respond to an emergency. Once we checked in for our shift, we were free to rove our area (and the course in general) and tried to flow with the majority of the crowds. Initially, we were told to plan on being on foot for the week but that the planners were hoping to acquire enough golf carts for each of the teams. In preparation for being on foot all week, I began by evaluating my patrol equipment.
Now, let’s be real for a minute. Your standard golf crowd is not a rowdy group of hooligans. Golf fans do not flip over golf carts, set the concession stands on fire, or loot the souvenir shops when their favorite player doesn’t make the cut. However, anytime you have 30,000-50,000+ people in one place day after day, the potential for problems increases.
Early morning at Infineon Raceway before a NASCAR event. Everything in the article applies to this too – just add earplugs (Photo: editor)
I removed the oversized front and back trauma plates I had been wearing on patrol and returned to the standard-size plates that came with my armor. I removed my back-up gun (BUG), full-sized flashlight, and every other administrative item that I felt I had no need for.
A couple of months prior, I had bought a pair of very lightweight, breathable boots that I broke in while working patrol. These changes actually dropped the weight I was carrying by nearly ten pounds. I also prepared for a week of standing and walking. In addition to my normal workouts, I intentionally spent more time on my feet between calls and when eating. I would sometimes find a secure place to park and stand or walk around my car, increasing the amount of time. I only learned that we were getting a cart when I reported for my shift on the first day of the event.
After learning that we’d have the cart to use, I put my BUG back on and put some of the admin items back into a small daypack, which we also used.
On the second day, we were given a large cooler that was filled with bottles of water and sports drinks to pass out to other officers who were working at the event. As the weather was hotter than expected, this turned out to be a necessity. We were also given a “meal ticket” to use at any of the concession stands throughout the course. Even though we were now fully equipped with drinks and a source of food, my partner and I still chose to stay self-sufficient. We still brought our own water and drinks, as well as snack foods such as energy bars and jerky. We could eat when we were hungry and not have to “fight” any of the crowds.
The location of the tournament featured rather dusty pathways between holes. We tried to drive slowly so as not to stir up the dust, but with thousands of people walking around us, it was nearly impossible not to go home with a coating of dust. When I got home each day, I took my uniform off in our garage and used my shop vac and leaf blower to clean things off for use the next day, including my duty gear. My vest was laid out flat each day with a fan blowing on it to dry everything off before I would wipe down both the panels and carrier.
Regardless of the agency and the sport, all of these large events have a lot of things in common. All require the offices to prepare. (Photo: WikiCommon)
One of the great things about a national event is that people from every part of the country and world come to be a part of it. We met some great people who, even though they were paying thousands of dollars to be there, were just as happy to ask how we were doing or if we got to watch some of the golf. The good news was that neither of us cared for golf! This better allowed us to maintain our vigilance, even though we did do a little bit of celebrity spotting.
Being down on the track, in front of the grand stand, is sort of like the gallery – just a lot louder (Photo: editor)
If you’re pre-prepared for a multi-day event, you can have a pretty good time and still ensure the security of the participants and spectators.