Game-day security across the Southeastern Conference could be more consistent from stadium to stadium if an executive committee is successful.
In a Aug. 21 meeting, LSU Police Department Police Chief Lawrence Rabalais, chairman of the executive committee for the SEC Chiefs of Police and Emergency Managers Association, said he wants to standardize policies on bags, bottled water, alcohol and weapons across the SEC so that no matter where a fan attends an SEC sporting event, he or she knows what is allowed and expected.
Rabalais is also pushing to have the emergency evacuation plan displayed in the stadium closer to the beginning of games, rather than 45 minutes before as it is now.
Rabalais cited an increase in football stadium sizes across the conference as a key reason for an emphasized police role in SEC football games.
“We’re here to promote the safety of the events, with football being the biggest event,” Rabalais said. “When you buy a football ticket, there’s an expectation for safety, and that’s what we want to provide.”
Tennessee’s Neyland Stadium holds 102,455 people, while Texas A&M’s Kyle Field’s proposed expansion will have a capacity of 102,500 and LSU’s Death Valley holds 92,452 people.
The SEC Chiefs of Police and Emergency Managers Association met at the University in March with SEC Commissioner Mike Slive to promote an agenda of increased security and the adoption of best practices. At that time, the executive committee, comprising Rabalais, Joe Monroe of Kentucky, Jimmy Williamson of Georgia and Brian Gard of Tennessee was created to communicate better with the SEC in regards to the needs of officers and emergency managers at SEC events.
This association, which meets yearly, was in place years ago, but suffered a lapse in its meetings and rekindled in 2011, according to Rabalais.
The meeting on Aug. 21 allowed the executive committee members to combine their ideas in order to present a plan to Slive. Rabalais said the executive committee demonstrates an advance in communication between security agencies and the SEC, which will lead to future changes.
Rabalais hopes that policies will be in place beginning next football season, but he is most excited for the communication between law enforcement, emergency managers and the SEC. Rabalais also said that the most effective changes would come from the SEC, not the various university police departments.
He also hopes that the NCAA will notice these best practices and implement them in other conferences as well.