Following the high profile mass shootings at the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino in Las Vegas, Nevada on October 1, 2017, experts believe that hotels will likely be taking a new look at their security systems and protocols.
Many believe, including the attorneys at Parker Waichman LLP, that changes should be made to always ensure hotel guest security. The attorneys at Parker Waichman are available to assist individuals and their families who suffered personal injury, emotional distress, property damage, other loss or death due to gun violence at a hotel.
Hotel Negligence Cases: What Security Steps Are Hotels Using, Considered to Protect Guests
Worldwide, some security measures have been taken by hotels or are being taken by hotels, purportedly to protect their guests; however, given the very recent mass shooting at the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino (MGM Resorts International) in September 2017; last year’s mass shooting at The Pulse in Orlando; and the ongoing and unresolved political fight over gun control measures, more needs to be done to keep people safe. And, safety should go beyond hotels putting security measures in place that protect their hotels to ensuring guests are at least as well protected.
There are various security measures in place that other hotels should consider. For example, Egypt’s The Four Seasons scans guests’ luggage and handbags in much the same way that personal baggage is scanned at airports. At a luxury, five-star hotel located in Israel and with 335 rooms and approximately 100 shift workers, the number of security personnel ranges from four to five, as well as the head of security. Visible security activity via cameras, checkpoints, and other measures was suggested.
In fact, a recent study reviewed safety and security measures from the viewpoint of hotel guests at various five-star hotels in Egypt entitled “Ghazi KM (2015) Safety and Security Measures in Egyptian Hotels.”
Detectors include a walk-in metal detector at the hotel entrance; closed-circuit television systems (CCTVs) and video surveillance in place at public hotel areas; smoke, fire, heat, and carbon monoxide detectors throughout the hotel, including in guest rooms; and bomb-proof Kevlar wallpaper and Sniffex devices. Luggage and bags are checked by metal detectors and X-ray machines and vehicles entering the hotel are checked by metal detectors.
Emergency preparedness includes emergency power generators in blackouts, plans and evacuation sound warning systems, and master keys for duty and security managers; clearly marked emergency exits, stairways, fire sprinklers, and extinguishers or dampers; emergency contact lists for local authorities such as the police and the emergency hotel phone number; safe deposit boxes located at the front of the hotel; and remote trouble and alarm stations at all entry points
Medical preparedness include a 24-hour on-call physician, a medical hotel clinic, a nearby pharmacy, and defibrillation units that contain a face mask for every guest for smoke or disease and an ambulance or bed ambulance carrier.
Hotels employ staff security in the form of uniformed and non-uniformed security guards who carry walkie-talkies, security guards patrolling the hotel, and staff being trained in hotel safety and security procedures.
Guestroom security includes having a first-aid kit, secure deposit box, and a flashlight in every guest room; door chains to enable doors to be opened slightly to allow for viewing outside without exiting the room as well as peep holes in the door to view outside without opening the door; electronic key card-locking system—smart card, optical, punch, biometrics, and magnetic—on guest room doors; multilingual brochures on surviving emergencies and recommended guest safety and security precautions; and having a dedicated female-only hotel guest floor.
Pool and beach safety measures include beach tsunami warning systems, pool and beach lifeguards, security boat surveillance utilizing low noise pollution engines, secured fence and non-slip surfaces surrounding swimming pools, and safety signs indicating that children should be supervised by an adult.
Access Control steps include limiting hotel main access points as much as feasibly possible; implementing physical and hydraulic road barriers to prevent close access by bombs and high-speed vehicles; sniffer dogs at hotel entrances and public areas; key-activated elevators that interface with an electronic room locking system; a visitor management system in which all visitor receive a visitor pass card; passport or photo ID check, especially for walk-in guests; photo IDs and nametags for hotel staff; a trash management system to prevents odors, diseases, hiding harmful and explosive substances, and unauthorized access to papers; and bright lighting and sufficient width in corridors and staircases.
Information and cyber security measures such as pre-travel data surveillance and screening procedures tied to check-in, up-to-date cyber-security techniques and software patches such as firewalls, virus and spyware protection, encryption, and user authentication; secure guest information such as credit card numbers, reservation information, and registration card; and caller screening by hotel telephone operator.
Other Hotel Security Measures Being Considered
Following the devastating Las Vegas shooting, CNBC is speculating on changes being considered in hotel security, noting that experts in hotel security believe this latest shooting may lead to meaningful changes, but would likely not be as broad as those impacting airlines following the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001.
According to the president of iJet International, Bruce McIndoe, the Las Vegas shooting will provoke ”immediate changes to security protocols.” iJet International performs up to 400 global hotel security audits annually, according to CNBC. He also told CNBc that hotels will likely train security surveillance staff to pay more attention to customers carrying long items—fishing poles, skis—that may be hiding rifles.
Former FBI agent, Manuel Gomez, told CNBC that security professionals are expected to look more closely at events that occur near high-rise buildings, such as the country music event in Las Vegas. “The answer is to not put hundreds of people in an area where you have hotels or you have other venues that have not been screened or are not secure,” said Gomez. “We learned a very hard way that these open-area events are not safe.” Gomez is currently president of MG Security Services.
Former director of the Center for Security Policy Studies at George Mason University, Audrey Cronin, wrote in an email to CNBC that the details of the Las Vegas shooting were “horrifying”; however, not unmatched, regarding a mass shooter killing and injuring many people from a tall nearby “structure.” As an example, she wrote about the University of Texas shooting in 1966. Charles Whitman killed 15, firing from an observation tower on campus. “It took police more than an hour to end the incident, and they learned a great deal from that,” she wrote to CNBC. Cronin is a professor in the School of International Service at American University. CNBC noted that the 1966 shooting is believed to have been the impetus for implementation of university police departments. Cronin discussed that law enforcement generally controls access to neighboring high locations prior to major political events; however, the recent Las Vegas shooting may lead to broader measures at other venues. “The question is whether that practice will have to be expanded to non-political situations. Yes, it may include changes to hotel security practices,” she wrote to CNBC, adding that, “Unfortunately, our law enforcement practices often must adapt in the wake of major tragedies.”
McIndoe believes low-risk hotels may consider baggage screening and metal detectors as the industry conducts what he described as a “rethink”; however, major security changes may be cost prohibitive, especially in Las Vegas where many hotel properties are tied to casinos. “Now, it’s not going to be like TSA,” he said. The TSA is the Transportation Security Administration. “That’s just not going to happen. It would very much disrupt the whole commerce model for a hotel property.” Fred Del Marva, a casino and hotel security consultant believes metal detectors may not work in all venues, saying “No, it’s not going to work. It’s never been done; it never will be done,” he said, according to CNBC.
McIndoe said that the quick local law enforcement response showed that police security procedures were actually successful. “The security measures that are in place, especially in Vegas, worked,” he said, noting that Las Vegas has a 24-hour “standing” SWAT team and was able to neutralize the shooter rapidly. He told CNBC, otherwise, the number killed would have been greater. “That doesn’t minimize the fact that a lot of people died,” he did point out.
Legal Help for Victims of Violence Associated with Mass Shootings
If you, or someone you know, suffered personal injury, property damage, emotional distress, other loss, or death you may have valuable legal rights. Our firm offers free, no-obligation case evaluations. For more information, fill out our online form or call one of our experienced attorneys at 1-800-YOURLAWYER (1-800-968-7529).