Report of the Task Force on Crowd Control and Safety

Chapter VI - Successful Crowd Management Techniques

1. Introduction

To learn how facilities in other cities similar to Cincinnati Riverfront Coliseum prepare for major events and rock concerts, the Task Force sent representatives to consult with facility operators at Madison Square Garden Center, New York, New York; The Spectrum, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; Starplex, Washington, D.C.; The Coliseum, Richfield, Ohio; and Lexington Center, Lexington, Kentucky. A representative also met with the commander of the Los Angeles Police Department's special rock concert detail to discuss crowd management and law enforcement at outdoor rock concerts. The facilities listed above are among those that have thorough crowd management planning and implementation procedures. Facility manuals, describing staff authority and responsibility, emergency plans, pre-recorded safety messages, etc. are evidence of their thoroughness. They treat their patrons with respect, respond to requests and complaints positively, and publicize and enforce house rules. By maintaining good organization and respect, they have discouraged the attitude of "anything goes" among their patrons.

The most effective crowd management clearly delineates areas of responsibility and authority and especially underscores the need for cooperation and communication between public and private parties. When those elements are absent problems can arise at an event. For instance, at the August 4, 1976 Elton John concert in Cincinnati the total on-duty personnel in District One (downtown and the West End) was called to respond to crowd disorders at the Coliseum. At the Led Zeppelin concerts on April 19 and 20, 1977, the City incurred $12,000 in expenses for police protection and waste collections and for property damage. Then on December 3, 1979 at The Who concert, City police and fire personnel from throughout the City responded to the emergency situation that resulted in eleven deaths and an approximately equal number of injuries.

The discussions with these selected facility operators, police and other authorities in the field of crowd management have enabled the Task Force to assemble a list of crowd management techniques which have proven successful for a variety of events and audiences. The techniques listed here are the product of common sense, careful observations, and experience. Not all of the techniques can be used by all facilities in Cincinnati or are applicable at all sites where events take place, but they can serve as models for facility operators, law enforcement officers and promoters.

The public, too, should be interested in these techniques which enable them more clearly to visualize their own role in crowd management and to understand the actions of others responsible for providing them with a safe environment.

(Note that some of these techniques mentioned below may also have been included elsewhere in this report.)

2. Selected Successful Techniques

A. Standards for Advance Planning and Training

  1. The preparation for an event is based on background information, ticket sales, previous crowd behavior and the experience of other facilities hosting same event.
  2. Facility representatives at times travel to other localities to observe crowd responses and crowd handling, along with the production of the show.
  3. Special planning is done for difficult events.
  4. House rules are publicized and enforced.
  5. Training manuals are prepared by facility management and are distributed to all staff.
  6. A crowd management plan and an emergency plan are prepared in writing.
  7. Decisions to stop an event are made jointly by police, facility, promoter and entertainers.
  8. The facility management works cooperatively with Fire Division personnel on the inside and with law enforcement officers on the outside to help develop appropriate safety plans.
  9. A formal chain of command for both exterior and interior crowd management personnel is developed and shared with concerned parties.
  10. Adequate communication is maintained between interior and exterior security.
  11. Special notices and prohibitions for an event are publicized in advance.
  12. There are sufficient medical emergency services, personnel and equipment.
  13. Crowd management plans and techniques are periodically reviewed for effectiveness.
B. Techniques for Interior Crowd Management
  1. The facility assumes responsibility for interior patron behavior.
  2. The facility is well maintained and clean at all times, including the time when an event is in progress,
  3. Facility operators and/or event promoters make decisions concerning events inside with consideration to the possible effects of those decisions on the exterior crowd situation.
  4. Alcohol is not sold when it may negatively affect crowd behavior.
  5. Aisles and steps are well lighted or clearly marked.
  6. Ushers seat patrons at reserved seating events.
  7. Facility staff members are trained in crowd management.
  8. Fire codes are enforced.
  9. Medical emergency services are adequate for the event. First-aid room location is publicized to patrons.
  10. Disabled and handicapped patrons receive special attention.
  11. Facility lights are not turned off completely during the performance if there is no secondary lighting for aisle ways and corridors.
  12. Security is familiar with emergency plans and building layout.
  13. Ushers remain at positions until the event is over.
C. Techniques for Exterior Crowd Management
  1. The time set to open the facility is advertised and doors can be opened earlier if circumstances require.
  2. The facility keeps the crowd informed about what is occurring inside.
  3. The crowd is queued and its entry into the facility may be controlled by metering.
  4. Concessionaires are permitted on the outside of the facility to sell refreshments, especially to waiting crowds.
  5. More than one entrance is used, whenever possible.
  6. Local government assumes responsibility for exterior crowd management on public property.
  7. Police are trained in crowd management.
  8. The size of a police detail for an event reflects the anticipated crowd size and behavior.
  9. Patrons are kept from amassing against a facility.
  10. The facility staff helps direct pedestrian traffic on the outside.
  11. The public address system has adequate volume and clarity for outside and inside use.
  12. The exterior security commander, the inside manager, security chief and medical care unit can communicate directly with each other.
  13. Crowds outside are afforded the necessary accommodations while waiting (water fountains, portable toilets, waste baskets, musical broadcasts, etc.).
D. Techniques for Facility Security
  1. Security has appropriate crowd management training and is familiar with the facility and emergency procedures.
  2. Security personnel screen patrons for contraband.
  3. House ushers and their personnel have names or identifying numbers on their apparel.
  4. Security personnel enforce house rules.
  5. Security personnel treat patrons with respect.
  6. Security personnel cooperate with law enforcement officers and accept orders and directives in emergency situations.
  7. Facility security personnel are neatly dressed.
  8. Security personnel are provided with a training manual which explains and delegates roles of authority and responsibility.
E. Techniques for Tickets and Ticket Processing
  1. Under normal conditions, one ticket taker per 1, 000 patrons is used.
  2. If intensive contraband inspection is necessary after ticket taking, 1.5 ticket takers are used per 1, 000 patrons.
  3. Tickets indicate which entrance the patron is to use.
  4. For superstar events where demand for tickets is overwhelming, the date tickets go on sale is not announced until the tickets are available for sale, or tickets are sold by mail order.
  5. A warning specifying contraband is displayed on tickets and at ticket entrances.
  6. Tickets are legible; tickets for different events are readily distinguishable from one another.



  1. Local facilities should study the crowd management techniques and plans of other facilities to help them in formulating a comprehensive crowd management plan.

  2. The crowd management techniques in this section when applicable should be employed by facility management for the safety of their patrons.

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