special event security

On April 15, 2013, approximately 32,000 runners prepared to finish the race of a lifetime. Professional runners and amateurs alike crossed the finish line, as Boston's crowds cheered their success. It was the American dream -- working hard and finally achieving an incredible goal.

At 2:49 p.m. EST, a "pressure cooker" bomb exploded near the finish line, followed by a second explosion just 12 seconds later. Three of the runners lost their lives, and another 264 were injured. How did this happen? Most importantly, what did security experts learn to help prevent such a tragedy in the future?

Security Presence Versus Security Activity

As the media swarmed onto the scene following the attack, a number of participants and spectators were interviewed about the security measures in place before the attack happened. Some spectators reported seeing droves of security officers, but few were stopped, questioned, or searched as they approached the finish line.

Having a security force in place doesn't deter such an act of terror unless the officers are active in identifying and neutralizing threats. It is important to establish checkpoints along any route people can take to the event. Furthermore, the use of bomb dogs and other measures could have greatly reduced the chances of the bombers getting to the finish line and detonating their bombs.

Having Fun Versus Being Safe

The unfortunate aftermath of 9/11 is sacrificing a certain amount of privacy and freedom in order to remain safe. During the Boston Marathon, security forces patrolled the area, but avoided actions that could have hindered the crowd's enjoyment of the event. For the 2014 event, the organizers of the event instituted additional safety measures, including restricting items like baggage, coolers, containers, blankets, costumes, and props from the spectator areas and finish line.

By limiting what spectators could bring, organizers and security personnel were able to greatly reduce the chances of another terrorist sneaking in bombs. Event organizers often have to make decisions between allowing the crowd to have fun and offering a safe, secure environment for the event.

Public Versus Private Security

Seventeen different law enforcement agencies participated in the security of the 2013 Boston Marathon. Obviously, when multiple groups are involved, things get overlooked and slip through the cracks. Agency A thinks a particular task belongs to Agency B, and Agency C fails to pass important information along to Agency D. Though multiple agencies can bring additional personnel, equipment, knowledge, and perspective, the confusion can sometimes hinder the effectiveness of the security teams. Many event organizers might well decide that hiring a private special event security organization is more practical and effective than depending on large teams comprised of multiple government agencies.

Unlike running a marathon, security is an industry that never reaches its finish line. As would-be terrorists develop new ways to cause trouble, security experts have to adapt and create new ways of stopping them. Even a tragedy like the Boston Marathon bombing becomes an important learning tool, teaching security experts more about stopping evildoers in their tracks.

If you need state-of-the-art event security, contact us. GSS Security has over 20 years' experience in successfully keeping event performers and attendants safe from harm. See how a professional team of private security experts can boost confidence in your event while allowing the crowd to have the incredible time they came for. At GSS, security is an American tradition.


1. http://www.cbsnews.com/news/one-year-later-what-was-learned-about-security-gaps-from-the-boston-marathon-bombing/

2. http://www.pbs.org/newshour/bb/terrorism-jan-june13-boston_04-30/

3. http://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/CHRG-113shrg82575/pdf/CHRG-113shrg82575.pdf

4. http://www.globalresearch.ca/boston-marathon-bombing-timeline/5345924

5. http://www.baa.org/races/boston-marathon/event-information/spectator-information.aspx