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How to Secure Your Meeting

Shaffer Security Group (SSG) founder, Greg Shaffer, a 20-year FBI Supervisory Special Agent (retired), has designed, implemented and managed security plans for NFL Super Bowls, NBA World Championships, MLB World Series, State Fairs, NASCAR events, and a host of other large-scale, high threat, “Special Events” across the globe.

SSG uses “best practices” employed by the FBI and the U.S. Secret Service, as well as strategies that have been effective for local law enforcement and private security, to develop a detailed and thorough security plan for your meeting or event.  Although our focus is on events which often include a variety of VIPs, and may be a target for protestors, demonstrators, criminals, or even terrorist; these same “best practices” can also help planners of small gatherings and corporate meetings.

Meeting planners often have to act as their own security consultants. I recommend you conduct your own Threat & Risk Assessment looking at factors that are relevant to private and public events such as:

  • How many will be attending your meeting?
  • How many VIPs will be in attendance?
  • Is this a political or religious based event?
  • Is the date of your meeting relevant from any historical perspective – such as an anniversary of a terrorist attack?
  • What is the location and duration of your event?

As any meeting planner will tell you, no two events are exactly the same. Special event and meeting planning, response and management are often case-by-case operations, and for venue managers and event organizers, this can mean revising or even rewriting the “playbook” for each event.

Even before a venue is selected, security considerations should be considered so that a suitable and safe location is chosen. In the Pre-Planning Phase, we recommend you use a “Check List” to address the safety and security challenges that each venue presents. Download the check list developed by Shaffer Security Group here.

Last year, an SSG client was hosting a dinner in conjunction with a major sporting event. The guest list included many high-profile celebrities. When my firm was contacted, the venue had already been chosen and the event was taking place in a few days. Unfortunately, they did not consider the popularity of the restaurant. It was packed and had a long line of patrons waiting to get in. While a private room had been selected, it was on the second floor. There was no plan for how to discreetly get the guests in and out while avoiding delays caused by autograph and selfie seekers. Celebrities risk damaging their reputations if they ignore or refuse their fans’ requests so, it created quite a scene. Had security been a focus from the start, our recommendation would have been for a different venue that could assure private, secure access, providing everyone peace of mind. Choosing a venue is just one aspect that can be positively influenced when security is considered in advance of event.

Bottom Line – Plan for worst-case scenarios to include extraordinary crimes, violence by protestors, a possible terrorist attack, and natural disaster – but also be thoroughly prepared to deal with ordinary incidents, such as uninvited guests, large crowds, fights, drunkenness, or small protests.

Remember, the time to develop a security plan is not in the middle of a crisis, and your typical response time for police to arrive on-scene is twelve to fifteen minutes.


About Greg Shaffer

Greg Shaffer is the author of “Stay Safe – Security Secrets for Today’s Dangerous World” and the founder of the Dallas-based Shaffer Security Group. Greg is internationally recognized as an expert on Active Shooter & Counter Terrorism. Greg also served 20 years as a Special Agent in the FBI, where he was an Operator on their elite “Hostage Rescue Team” (HRT) and also the program manager for their Close Protection Training. Greg has trained counter terrorism teams, SWAT teams, police officers, intelligence officers and civilians across the globe in Active Shooter Response & Tactical Firearms.

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