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Security concerns over Brazil hosting the 2014 World Cup soccer tournament, from 12 June to 13 July 2014, continue to escalate with fierce public protests erupting each day in Rio de Janeiro. The protests add to yet another hurdle for Brazil as it prepares to stage this globally televised event and furthermore prepare for the summer Olympic Games in 2016. Special events like the World Cup and Olympic Games are vital to countries for a myriad of reasons, including but not limited to: public enjoyment, sense of community, and most importantly revenue. Successful and seamless security is an important aspect of these events, which require that law enforcement agencies perform extensive planning to attain a balance between heightening public safety and fostering a feeling of hospitality.
With an unfinished stadium, random outbreaks of street protests, police strikes, and violent rioting across Brazil, international concerns are rising about the country’s ability to provide adequate security for visitors during the World Cup tournament. In addition, Brazil has a high rate of violence and crime; there are upwards of 50,000 murders per year. To boost security, Brazil has spent an estimated $855 million (USD) on security and safety measures, Brazilian authorities have received additional training, and the government intends to deploy new, albeit untested, equipment such as aerial drones. The International Olympic Committee (IOC) will be watching Rio de Janeiro closely as it hosts the World Cup final on July 13. In May 2014, the Washington Times reported that, “IOC Vice President John Coates called Rio’s preparations for the Olympic Games, ‘the worst that I’ve experienced’ and compared them unfavorably with those of 2004 in Athens.”
In Brazil, what originated as a protest against an increase in public transit fares escalated into a much larger public demonstration. Upward of a million people may take to the streets against corruption and excessive spending in preparations for the 2014 World Cup and the 2016 Olympic Games. The basic principals of special event preparation seem to be lacking in Brazil, with inadequate time to learn assignments, forge partnerships, acquire and test technology and equipment, and conduct interagency training.
At any level, preparation for such major special events should ideally begin at least two years before the event date. Often, these events entail multiple law enforcement agencies at every level, with key partners including fire, emergency medical services, public transportation, public works, healthcare, other public agencies, and the private sector. To address the influx of people, it is important to include the businesses affected by the event, as well as private security firms. The planning stage provides time to establish the mission, connect and collaborate with other partners, meet on a regular basis with team members and public and private partners, and develop comprehensive security and contingency plans.
In March 2007, the U.S. Department of Justice’s Office of Community Oriented Policing Services Agencies published, “Planning and Managing Security for Major Special Events: Guidelines for Law Enforcement.” This and similar documents address an array of training topics that organizations should consider when preparing for large special events:
- Central command system – Due to the multiagency environment of security for special events, this training includes the command staff of the assorted agencies, chiefly those who will be in the communications command center during the special event.
- Specialized equipment – New equipment such as aerial drones requires training for the people who will operate and use the equipment.
- Orientation and briefing plan – Training includes briefing and educating all personnel on the security plan for the special event.
- Crowd control – Training for crowd control tactics and the use of force would be effective for the entire security detail when large-scale special events face a daily threat of disruption from demonstrators and protestors.
- Personal protective equipment (PPE) – PPE training before the event prepares officers in case of a chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear, and high-yield explosives threat.
- Terrorist tactics – Terrorist attacks in the United States on 11 September 2001, in Madrid on 3 March 2004, and in London on 7 July 2005 highlight the importance of training security to recognize signs of possible terrorist activities.
There are many methods for delivering special event security training, including:
- Roll-call training – Trainers deliver a progression of topics over time, breaking down the lessons to provide both an overview on the security plan as well as on subjects such as use of force and communication.
- Video training – When time is limited, officers can watch videos online at home, while agencies monitor activity to help ensure that personnel have watched the required videos and passed a test on the information provided therein.
- Handouts – Agencies can distribute additional material during meetings that security officers review offsite at their convenience.
- Online training – Educational materials, pertinent articles, examples of reports, and written procedures can be posted on the special event’s website for security to examine and download.
- Tabletop exercises (TTX) – TTXs provide an opportunity for personnel to: review procedures and plans; make necessary adjustments; clarify chain of command, control, and communications protocols; identify deficiencies or duplications of effort; enforce team building; and establish trust among the participating agencies.
- Field exercises – Especially useful for crowd-control training, field exercises enable personnel to “walk through” a realistic scenario that they may face during the special event.
The world anxiously awaits to find out if Brazil has adequately prepared for the World Cup. As recently as 14 May 2014, Brazil’s sports minister Aldo Rebelo continues to downplay fears and remind his inquisitors that other countries have had their share of past security issues. However, Rebelo also admits that the World Cup faces “serious” security problems, although Brazil is not “a war zone like Iraq or Afghanistan.” He did concede though that in Rio – the host city of seven of the games including the final on July 13 – there is “day-to-day civil violence …, but we are taking precautions.”
Of the 170,000 security personnel expected to offer assurance and meet security needs across the 12 host cities in Brazil, approximately 150,000 will be the Brazilian armed services and Brazilian police force. The additional 20,000 working inside the 12 host-city stadiums will be from private security firms. In addition to some three million Brazilians and 600,000 foreign tourists, there is particular concern surrounding the many Brazilians who have already begun staging mass protests, which Brazilian security officials have not prepared for nor trained for as a potential scenario.
The 2014 World Cup serves as a training platform, rather than a “dress rehearsal,” for the 2016 Olympic Games. The tournament will expose whether Brazil’s security systems, airports, stadiums, and transit systems are performing up to standards. When planning for and managing major special events, there are many considerations, which include:
- Planning for the worst-case scenarios by thoroughly preparing to deal with ordinary crimes and incidents, such as fights and public drunkenness, as well as unexpected crimes, such as violence by protestors, possible terrorist attacks, and natural disasters;
- Weighing the security measures – for example, street closures, searches, and highly visible tactical units – against the jurisdiction’s desire to produce events that are enjoyable, well attended, and profitable;
- Ensuring that the event continues safely, while respecting rights such as freedom of speech and assembly;
- Establishing new and effective organizational arrangements, management structures, and methods of communication between multiple agencies; and
- Ensuring that areas surrounding the event continue to receive essential law enforcement services.
Although Brazilian protests have been “mostly” peaceful, at least 12 people have died, police have used rubber bullets, tear gas, and pepper spray to disperse crowds, and vandals have looted some stores and shattered windows at government ministries. According to a CBS News report on 24 May 2014, Brazil reportedly is spending $11 billion on the World Cup, which is more than double what South Africa spent and five times more than Germany. In addition to protests, other problems plague the Brazilian government ahead of the World Cup: Several of the 12 stadiums are not finished; and officials have either postponed or canceled major infrastructure updates. Appropriate, efficient planning, communication, and training are critical to the success of any major event.
Richard Schoeberl, Ph.D., has over 25 years of law enforcement experience, including the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and the National Counterterrorism Center (NCTC). He has served in a variety of positions throughout his career, ranging from a supervisory special agent at the FBI’s headquarters in Washington, DC, to unit chief of the International Terrorism Operations Section at the NCTC’s headquarters in Langley, Virginia. Before these organizations, he worked as a special agent investigating violent crime, human trafficking, international terrorism, and organized crime. He was also assigned numerous collateral duties during his FBI tour – including as a certified instructor and member of the agency’s SWAT program. In addition to the FBI and NCTC, he is an author and has served as a media contributor for Fox News, CNN, PBS, NPR, Al-Jazeera Television, Al Arabiva Television, Al Hurra, and Sky News in Europe. Additionally, he has authored numerous scholarly articles, serves as a peer mentor with the Police Executive Research Forum, is currently a professor of Criminology and Homeland Security at the University of Tennessee-Southern, and works with Hope for Justice – a global nonprofit combatting human trafficking. He also serves on the Domestic Preparedness Advisory Board.