DHS tackles security in sports arenas

Thursday - 4/29/2010, 10:08am EDT

Todd Keil, Assistant Secretary, DHS

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By Suzanne Kubota
Senior Internet Editor
FederalNewsRadio.com

This week, more than 200 government and private sector participants gathered near Dulles for the Sports Leagues Conference and Table Top Exercise.

Todd Keil the Assistant Secretary for Infrastructure Protection at DHS told Federal News Radio the conference focuses on the security of ballparks, stadiums and arenas across the country.

"Large gatherings of people cause us concern," said Keil, "because terrorists and criminals often... target those venues to gain notoriety or to cause disruption or destruction and that's why we need to partner and make this partnership work the best it can."

Representatives from the State Department Diplomatic Security Service, DHS, FBI, TSA, FAA, US Olympic Committee, NFL teams and league representatives, owners and operators of arenas and stadiums, major league soccer, Major League Baseball, NASCAR and racing venues met for the conference and table top exercise, said Keil. "We had a great mix of government, law enforcement and private sector partners."

In the end, said Keil, the lessons learned were very familiar to the sporting world: the answer is "teamwork."

Getting down to the nuts and bolts of the exercise, the one thing that was very clear is working together in the partnership, and it's really a partnership at work. It strengthens our combined capabilities to respond to the dynamic threat environment that we face as a nation. And it's recognized, I think across the board on the government side and the private sector side, that none of us can do this alone. The government can't do it alone. The private sector side can't do it alone. State and local law enforcement folks can't do it alone. We have to work together. We have to collaborate as we take on this dynamic threat environment.

As a team.

Keil said DHS gets "involved in all major sporting events, but the level of our involvement depends on the nature of the event, the location of event, and potential threat information we have."

Ninety-three Protective Security Advisors are located across the country, "and they're our primary focal point in dealing with state and local and venue owners and operators," said Keil. "So those folks are wired in at that level, and so we're involved at a number of levels for all major events."

Ideas and best practices from the conference, said Keil, will be used to update the National Infrastructure Protection Plan as needed.