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Manchester bombing: How SoCal venues, audiences can stay safe

Police stand by a cordoned off street close to the Manchester Arena on May 22, 2017 in Manchester, England.
Police stand by a cordoned off street close to the Manchester Arena on May 22, 2017 in Manchester, England.
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Members of the Islamic State have claimed responsibility in Monday night's suicide bombing at an Ariana Grande concert in Manchester, England, although U.S. intelligence officials say the connection hasn't been verified.

When events like this happen, it causes anyone to wonder, it's natural to be concerned about safety when you get tickets for a big event.

So, what’s actually being done to help stop terror attacks like the one in Manchester from happening wherever you’re going to be? U2 sold out the Rose Bowl over the weekend, and there’s a Chris Brown concert at the Forum on Tuesday night.

Brian Levin, who teaches criminal justice at Cal State San Bernardino and specializes in researching terrorism and hate crimes, tackled that question on Take Two. Here are some of the highlights of that discussion:

On if people should be worried when they hear a story like this:

They shouldn’t be worried, but they should be situationally aware. Look, we have over 30,000 deaths on the freeways and roads of the United States, and we’re not paranoid about it. We put on our seat belts, we don’t follow too closely, we take different measures when it’s raining. I think we have to approach this in a similar manner and not just say, ‘Oh, it’s a terrorist attack’ … there could be a variety of things that can happen at a large venue. There could be a fire, there could be a blackout – so the bottom line is to be situationally aware.

And, I think this is really important and we’ve heard it before: If you see something, say something. In 30 to 40 percent of cases involving terrorism, there’s leakage. Somebody says something, or they have a behavioral clue that is broadcast. I think if someone sees something suspicious – and I’m not talking about someone’s race, ethnicity, or faith, I’m talking about if they’re wearing a coat on a hot day or if it looks like they’re secreting something on their person – call authorities. 

On where bigger risks can be found:

Your greatest risk is going to be in the mass transit areas and those areas where there’s high density of pedestrian traffic. The venues themselves are generally well secured, and we saw that in places like Brussels and Paris, when there was a bomb device that was detonated, but it was outside the venue.

What we’re going to have to look at, those of us who are in the analytic and law enforcement communities: How do we get people in and out quickly and safely, and make sure those perimeters are safe because they’re “softer” than the hardened venues themselves.

On some of the safeguards we could be seeing, like vapor-sniffing dogs:

One of the things that we're going to see is greater surveillance with the use of cameras and more restrictions as to what we can carry into venues. That's the world we live in, but let me just say, your odds are so much more greater of being in a fatal vehicular accident on the WAY to a concert than you are to be hurt in any way at a concert.

Dogs are incredibly good at picking up particulate clues within the air that come from explosives. Vapor dogs are very good at finding these in large locations, and they're a little different than other types of canines that are trained more to sniff a particular item or person. 

All these kinds of surveillance are going to be part of the future, but also 323 million sets of eyes is an incredible deterrent, as well as these ... mobile SWAT teams which go unannounced throughout the city to various locations. That's something we need to see more of. Southern California's more spread out, so there are different issues with that ... but in any large event, you just want to be situationally aware and enjoy yourself. 

Listen to the whole interview by clicking the blue audio player above.