What began as a simple research project five years ago between colleagues at The University of Southern Mississippi, has mushroomed into a major training and testing facility with global implications.
As the National Center for Spectator Sports Safety and Security (NCS4) continues to evolve, recognition within the security industry grows as well. Recently, NCS4 Director Dr. Lou Marciani was recognized by Security magazine as one of the most influential people in security as part of an annual feature in the monthly publication.
“I am certainly honored and grateful to be included in such an elite group of security professionals,” said Marciani. “But the truth is that this type of recognition is actually a reflection of the national center and all the great work being done here by a group of individuals who truly want to make a difference.”
Marciani joins 32 others recognized for their contributions to security training, education and innovation. Among the honorees are representatives from corporate America and private enterprises as well as governmental agencies such as the FBI, Department of Homeland Security and the Drug Enforcement Agency.
Diane Ritchey, editor of Security magazine, noted that honorees are selected based upon their leadership qualities and the overall positive impact that their security projects, programs or departments have on their shareholders, organizations, colleagues and the general public.
“We chose Dr. Marciani because we recognized that he had a vision to increase the focus in the sports security world after the disaster of September 11th,” said Ritchey. “He saw the need to conduct innovative research, provide internationally recognized academic programs, enhance training capabilities and develop integrated security solutions.
“His vision and perseverance to tackle these critical issues with the passion and drive necessary to build an organization from the bottom up was, and continues to be, impressive.”
Established in 2006, the National Center for Spectator Sports Safety and Security was created to provide an interdisciplinary academic environment to further increase sport security awareness, improve sport security policies and procedures and enhance emergency response through evacuation, recovery operations and crowd management training.
Marciani, 66, shakes his head in amazement when recounting the early stages of NCS4’s development. The multi-faceted center actually sprang from an idea Marciani and colleague Walter Cooper shared while faculty members of the School of Human Performance and Recreation at Southern Miss.
“We went to the university and asked for some money to conduct a vulnerability study of the sports stadiums here on campus, to find out if there were some security gaps that needed to be addressed,” said Marciani. “We were given $18,000 for the project and things just progressed from there. It’s hard to believe how far we’ve come in such a short period of time.
“I really have to thank the administration here at Southern Miss, including those in the athletic department for continuing to support us and believe in the work we’re doing.”
Since its inception NCS4 has received approximately $9.4 million in grant money from the Mississippi Office of Homeland Security and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. Last spring NCS4 moved into the Trent Lott National Center for Excellence in Economic Development and Entrepreneurship which provides ample space for offices and the National Sports Security Laboratory.
Over the past two years NCS4 officials have conducted 65 Sport Event Risk Management workshops at collegiate and professional stadiums across the country. These workshops led to training and certification for more than 1,700 individuals representing 416 NCAA Division I, II and III institutions. Last August the center hosted the inaugural National Sports Safety and Security Conference and Exhibition in New Orleans. More than 300 attendees and 43 vendors participated in the conference which featured keynote addresses by Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano and NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell.
The center’s reach has extended beyond U.S. shores as inquiries have poured in from countries such as China, Qatar, South Korea, Brazil and the West Indies.
“It’s really taken on a global significance,” said Marciani. “With millions of people attending sporting events around the world each year, we can’t afford to take stadium security lightly. At the national center we’re committed to developing and testing strategies that will keep spectators everywhere as safe as possible.”
For more information about the National Center for Spectator Sports Safety and Security call 601.266.6183 or visit www.ncs4.com