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One building’s journey through walk-through metal detectors. By Phil Stout UNIVERSITIES:

There have been many articles written about walk-through metal de- tectors and their impacts on bottom lines, customer experiences, and event security. This article strives to be a candid view of the experienc- es of one building’s journey through the purchase, implementation, and operation of walk-through metal detectors.

Mr. Jones With the ever-growing emphasis on event, building, and patron safety, metal detectors are becoming, if they are not already, the new stan- dard in venue security. With this trend in mind, in addition to the unfortunate dangerous climate of the world, the decision was made to purchase and implement walk-through metal detectors. Additionally, the year prior to this decision it was noted that more and more pro- moters and tours were requesting or expecting walkthroughs to be part of the venue’s security protocols. No one wants to be the last person to the party, or be unable to keep up with the Joneses.

Ayo Technology Great. The decision was made to purchase this technology, but which ones? How many? What else did we need? Where are we going to store them? Do we use them for everything or just certain shows? These were just a few questions now running through our minds. After some careful research, talking to some vendors, some other buildings, and  Fisher M-Scopes. We were drawn to their portability, lightweight de- sign, adjustable sensitivity, and long battery life. These features were 

It Feels Like the First Time   drawing up the perfect layout for these shiny, new metal detectors, it - ment (WWE) house show. We could not have asked for a better day or event to roll these bad boys out. The sun was shining, the weather was warm but mild, and it was on a weekend so the crowd was excited and      usual that day to give them some additional time to set up the new bike racks, signage, tables, and brand spanking new metal detectors.      

the cattle shoots where the metal detectors were, the anticipation was palpable. Were they going to work as planned? Did we miss something crucial in our planning? Were they going to be an epic failure? The  It was moving slowly, though. We were having the patrons take every- thing out of their pockets and put them in bowls to be screened with bags (think airport security). This was taking a lot longer than expect- ed, a lack of communication, a lack of hearing, a lack of adhering,   out in the line. This helped some and the crowd all entered the build-       good about our protocols and security layout.


2nd Round K.O. Our very next event was a sold out (14,500+) rap show with a large  ramped up our security based on the attendance and rolled out every walk-through we have. Again, we felt good about our protocols and layout based on a successful run during the WWE event, so when we  been.

About 35 minutes into doors being opened things started to go south

at our usually slowest gate. Busloads of students were being dropped  to wait in line. They pushed, argued, agitated, and eventually overran the security at that gate. Multiple patrons were pushing through the metal detectors at one time, some jumped over barricades, others just     over. With the help of the police, order was able to be restored with- out any injuries, but the damage was done, to the equipment, to the  


After the 2nd round knockout, we went back to the drawing board. Like all pros, we looked at the tape and evaluated what went wrong. We noticed a couple things. One, our process was too time consuming.  the metal detectors were too close together causing a pinch point. Four, our cattle shoots were too wide and easily moved by the crowd. At one point, we were able to see four people wide in a cattle shoot.

 tweaking the layouts and the process. We talked to even more buildings on how they processed patrons through. Finally, we ended up with a process that worked well for a large event. We were able to space the metal detectors out more (6 feet between them), thus spreading out the crowd more and narrowed the cattle shoots to a single lane. This alleviated the ability for the crowd to surge at a narrow point. Also, instead of having patrons put everything in a bowl, we have them simply empty their pockets and hold the contents in their hands above their heads when they walk through. If any sector outside of the   contents examined (in-hand), and they move on. Finally, we had some additional lighting installed at the gates to light the area up more. We initially had to rent light towers until this was installed. It worked! It was a successful readjustment to our process that has

eliminated the initial issues and improved the entire patron entry sys- tem. The rest of our events went very smoothly after these adjustments and we have even received compliments on the process from patrons. Hopefully, you can learn from our mistakes because, overall, the im- plementation, however challenging, was positive for the building, pa- FM

Phil Stout is Assistant General Manager of the Bryce Jordan Center at Penn State University.


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