Event security experts take center stage at Moscone North
By Tyler Davidson
While its many educational sessions brimmed with valuable industry tips and insights, and its exhibition floor buzzed with activity, the main
event at the MPI Northern California chapter’s annual
ACE event featured a difficult topic that is on most
people’s minds now in the meetings industry: security.
Held at San Francisco’s Moscone Center North
convention facility, the March 9 event’s general session
lunch program was highlighted by the Security Issues
& Concerns for Event Organizers: Current Safety Trends
in Event Security program, presented by Clarence
Izzard, director of security for Marriott Vacations, and
Jonathan Wackrow, executive director of RANE (Risk
Assistance Network and Exchange).
A former Secret Service agent and member of the
Presidential Protective Division for five years, in addition to working six years with ITT/Starwood, Wackrow,
as well as Izzard, didn’t mince words when it came to
alerting attendees of the threats “soft targets” such as
meetings and events pose.
“The best strategy involves a fundamental under-
standing of security elements, sound protocols and
access to expert resources utilized systematically for
each bespoke meeting,” Wackrow told the crowd, em-
phasizing that although the task may seem daunting,
considering the totality of responsibilities involved with
planning meetings and events, security should be of
paramount concern and built into the day-to-day work-
flow in planning and executing any event. “You are the
logistical masters. Just think of it as adding security
and safety measures to that workflow. The facility team
will help, but you have to ask the questions.”
Izzard followed up with a more stark view of the peril
threats such as terrorism and active shooters now pres-
ent to any gathering with lots of people in a vulnerable
and/or confined area.
“Everything you do, day in and day out, you should
be aware of the surroundings,” Izzard stressed.
“Guests will immediately know when a bad thing has
happened, so communication will become key to
make them remain calm…And if you don’t have a
plan, knowing this may happen, you face great liability,
including [criminal prosecution].”
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JONATHAN WACKROW (FOREGROUND) AND CLARENCE IZZARD (BACKGROUND)