With gun related violence reaching epidemic status in the U.S, security is important now more than ever. EDM festivals are large gatherings of people coming from various countries and with different backgrounds, uniting in one place. The levels of production of such massive events are very high and everything is created in order to provide the attendees with a one-of-a-kind experience. Music festivals are intended to be fun, and exciting, but they also raise safety and security concerns for people who attend them as well as organize them.
The experience is more than meets the eye, a lot happens behind the scenes, from artist hospitality to tight security. As a response to increasing threats of different kinds, from bombings to shootings for various reasons, to sudden drug-related deaths, many festivals have tightened their security protocols than ever before. From drug-sniffing dogs to increased searches, new advanced measures are being put in place to make the festival experience safe and fun.
Festival companies have as a top priority of keeping festival-goers, staff and artists safe throughout their events. This comes as part of the experience. So having security personnel throughout the event premises and locations, before, during and after the event is key.
With the increase of festivals over the years, there has been an increase in the risk of crimes and theft during the festival and on festival grounds. Add to that the increase in risk of shootings and bombings for various reasons the world is facing today, this all caused festivals to increase and tighten their secutiry measures and policies to insure the safety and wellbeing of all it’s attendees, staff and guests. The additional security efforts appear to have produced largely positive results.
A lot of event organizers are spending a lot of energy on pre-emptive rules that would address security and safety concerns. Some of those include strict clear-bag policy, amnesty boxes for illicit substances, a strong Police presence, barricades to prevent vehicle threats, as well as a policy to report anything the festival-goers see as unusual or unordinary.
Based on the above, we can note that the organizers have established plans for getting cars in and out of the festival area safely, and attendees are expected to designate sober drivers and remain vigilant about their surroundings.
When there are large crowds, people assume that there are “other people” who are calling the police or helping in case of some emergency. Festival policies and new advanced measures encourage attendees to watch out for other people and take action when something doesn’t look right.
One of the biggest problems with music festivals is that they often combine a number of health factors, which compound one another and may lead to serious issues. From alcohol use to dehydration and it’s effects, so understanding the health risks involved and taking extra measures to prevent them is key. These in particular are the responsibility of the attendees themselves but recently, festivals are trying to help out by providing all the necessary to avoid any sudden health issues.
On another hand, new policies are becoming “extra strict”. It appears that despite the fact that face masks and totems have been key items of personal expression within the dance scene for years, they are now somehow dangerous. Ultra Music Festival’s latest rules, in addition to the standard no drugs, no flammable liquids, no weapons points, now include no face masks, backpacks or totems.
In addition to the standard pat-downs and police presence, the festival now promises to have numerous undercover cops to ensure that no illegal behaviors occur.
During the event you will be searched at several points. But festivals have to show that their entrance searches are being done for a “vital interest” of the festival to be found legal. From the moment you enter to random sudden searches if a guard suspects you or anyone around of some unusual activity. Remember, these are measures put for everyone’s safety and are for the greater good and courts draw a distinction between limited searches for weapons and “invasive” personal searches for drugs. So do note that they are not to make you feel uncomfortable or have to do with anything personally against you. You can report any search that you find invasive, inappropriate and violating. On another hand, attempting to bribe security personnel (to try and speed up the process or escape any kind of search) will risk getting you escorted out of the festival and almost always never works.
The police or security personnel will usually perform a pat down search at the festival entrance where they run their hands over your clothes and ask you to remove your jackets, jumpers, or to turn out your pockets. They can also search your bags, as well as your vehicle.
Despite the risks of drug detection at festivals and parties, many United States are actually looking to extend police powers. In Victoria, police minister Lisa Neville wanted to make it easier for the cops to stop and search you at music festivals. Moves are being put in place in order to remove any “reasonable suspicion” from the police, giving them the choice to search anyone and for any reason. The police are not obliged to explain to you their process, which is why you need to be informed beforehand.
Searches can be fast, confusing, and extremely overwhelming. If the police officer has the right to search you, you must let them do their job. It should not be humiliating for you if you have nothing to hide. There is a risk of you being charged if you hinder any search from law officers.
Don’t worry, strip searches are done in private and an officer cannot perform any internal searches of your body without your consent and without a doctor who is of the same sex as you.
You have the chance of filing a complaint if you feel like the officer has used unreasonable force during your search or arrest, or you have been hurt during the process. Again, these are done for everyone’s safety and there are certain measures in every case. In addition to the above, you can also file a complaint if the police/security personnel have attempted to use mirrors, recording devices, or to perform internal body searches during a strip search without your consent.
In addition to your bags being searched and yourself at the entrance, your cars will be searched, your camping equipment, they will even search your cooler for glass.
– You can improve your experience navigating these searches by adjusting your attitude and demeanor. Keep the line moving, and be attentive. Have your ID out and ready, purse open, pockets empty, etc.
– The security guard will subconsciously make a split second decision about you so paint the picture they want to see. Be friendly and make eye contact. You’re about to enter a music festival and have an amazing life experience, smile!
– When it comes to drug dogs, there’s not much you can do. Try to avoid them.
A Chicago Tribune field study revealed that drug dogs are more often wrong than they are right when alerting for drugs in vehicles.
– Firmly and politely object to any violation of your body. Simple statements of fact are best. Note that most festivals take negative allegations concerning their security personnel seriously and will act to fire unprofessional security guards.
– An important tip to keep in mind: whenever possible, have your festival buddies witness or document whatever is happening.
Taking Responsibilities Seriously
With additional searches put in place, sudden police involvement and more safety protocols put in to avoid any sudden accidents at EDM festivals and large gatherings, festival attendees have to understand that enjoying the EDM festival experience comes with a list of responsibilities that will always put safety and security as a top priorities. Attendees will always be expected to report usual incidents to security personnel, who are always present during the event. They must understand that safety searches and sudden checks will happen, and are on the rise actually, in order to insure that they will keep a lid on anyone trying to cause chaos and harm. From the festival management to the local police and law enforcement, everyone will be mobilized before, during, and after the festival.
Security professionals can take many precautionary steps in an attempt to mitigate or reduce the risk with access controls and consent searches, but we can never completely stop any deadly accident from happening. No promoter or security provider can prevent all guns or drugs from entering a festival site. Nor can do they do anything about drugs consumed before an attendee walks through the gate. The burden of responsibility shifts to the individual attendees.
Aside from the risk of drug-related incidents, there are other risks that festival security professionals must take into consideration. They should expect the unexpected, plan for various contingencies, learn from previous festivals, and do their best to warn and educate the promoters of the risks involved and effective ways to mitigate those risks. These are some of the reasons why more and more security protocol is being adapted and implemented from festival organizers.
For example, let’s take Ultra Music Festival in Miami. The Miami Police Commander Freddie Cruz stated that they added resources to protect attendees, which they will not reveal. Additionally, the SWAT team is on standby if anything arises. Ray Martinez stated as well: “Fortunately, Miami Police Department is a premiere law enforcement, and they put together some tactics and plans to guard against that and try to prevent anything from happening” After the mass shooting in Las Vegas in 2017, Ultra Chief of Security Ray Martinez stated: “We’re always concerned. Safety and security is our primary mission”