Sports safety group accredits LSU, security

In and around Tiger Stadium, work was underway Thursday to prepare for the kickoff of Saturday’s annual LSU spring football game.

Inside the west side Stadium Club, an announcement was being made that said the work of keeping people safe at major sporting events on LSU’s campus is never completed.

LSU has received accreditation from the National Center for Spectator Sports Safety and Security for its updated sporting event security procedures.

It is just the 11th school nationwide to earn the Sport Event Security Aware certification and only the fourth in the Southeastern Conference following Ole Miss, Mississippi State and Texas A&M.

The timing of Thursday’s news conference, three days after the twin deadly bombings at the end of Monday’s Boston Marathon, added a sense of urgency to the proceedings.

“Every Saturday night or with any sporting event or every moment there has always been a concern of what might happen and how prepared we are,” LSU System President William Jenkins said. “It’s the world we live in today.

“The terrible episode in Boston just reinforces what we all fear in one way or another. And you know it’s happened on campuses across our country in the recent past. Deep down you know there may be evil forces at work you simply don’t control.”

According to LSU Police Chief Lawrence Rabalais, the school has been working with NCS4 since January 2012. An announcement of LSU’s certification was originally scheduled for March 27, Rabalais said, but was pushed back because that was the date LSU announced the appointment of new LSU System President F. King Alexander, not because of the Boston bombings.

Still, it was a sober reminder of the need for enhanced security procedures at events such as LSU football games, which draw more than 100,000 people and 40,000 cars to the campus.

“We can learn from the experience we just had” in Boston, said Lou Marciani, director of NCS4 at the University of Southern Mississippi. “We’re all standing here because of 9/11, Katrina and others. We learn from those. That’s what we’re trying to get out of the Boston Marathon. How do we make those events safer in the future.”

Marciani said LSU underwent a “grueling experience” to reach its SESA status. That included reviewing of emergency plans, training of game day personnel and improving on the frequency of training exercises.

In those regards, Marciani said his organization initially found LSU deficient, but not in any significantly different ways from the other 10 schools that have been SESA certified.

“Overall the staff here is very well versed on (emergency) plans,” Marciani said. “The infrastructure is very strong here.”

Marciani said NCS4 will continue to work with LSU over the next three years to refine its security efforts, starting with a focus this year on evacuation plans.

“This is not something we have accomplished and will stop here,” Rabalais said. “It’s a process that is ongoing.”