Hawaii promoters address security at outdoor events in light of Vegas shooting

The recent tragedy in Las Vegas is raising issues about security at concerts and other outdoor events.

With hoolaulea and block parties, Hawaii is no stranger to outdoor venues and concerts.

Barb Saito, president of Aloha Group International, has been a local promoter for nearly 40 years. We asked what steps she takes to protect people at events she plans.

“The venue and HPD and concert promoters get together and talk about numbers for crowds that are coming in for various events here. Security will vary depending on the venue,” Saito said.

We’re told that for most events, a primary source of security lies in the bag checks. This ensures dangerous items do not enter the venue.

“In general, our audiences are pretty keen, so the metal detectors and wands haven’t come into play here as much as they have in the mainland,” Saito said.

Saito says controlling what’s brought into the event is easier than controlling what happens outside.

“What you’re really more concerned about here is what would happen in the perimeter of the venues — the pavilions, the walkways, the parking lots, and then the arena or the shell itself,” she said. “We have HPD patrols, particularly in the Waikiki Shell, because it sits in a public area.”

Saito says it’s unlikely what happened in Las Vegas could happen at a concert here because “we’ve pretty much got isolated venues. The Aloha Stadium doesn’t have a structure nearby from which something like the Mandalay Bay shooting could happen. The Blaisdell is now in the middle of several luxury high-rises, but it’s a covered venue.”

Although Aloha Stadium and the Waikiki Shell are not surrounded by tall buildings, a popular location for block parties on Nuuanu Avenue and Merchant Street poses a different story.

We asked Saito how a promoter could keep crowds safe at block parties like those we often see in Waikiki or downtown Honolulu.

“I don’t know that there’s a real answer for that,” she said.

“I can’t see it happening here, but you never know,” said Don Murphy, owner of Murphy’s Bar & Grill. “Fortunately, we’ve been very lucky over the last 30 years. We haven’t had any tragedies or real events, but this is something that you’ve got to pay attention to.”

Both Saito and Murphy say they think security will be ramped up at events locally in light of the recent attack in Las Vegas.

“We’ll do our best, however we do it, to make sure they enjoy themselves and head home safely,” Saito said.

In an emailed statement, the Honolulu Police Department says officers train for various types of scenarios, but it is difficult to predict when and where an incident will occur.

HPD asks that the public stay vigilant and report suspicious activity immediately.

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