Yesterday morning, my colleague and Hillard Heintze CEO Arnette Heintze accepted the invitation of a popular morning talk show in Chicago, the Big John and Amy Show on AM 560, to come on the air as a guest and expert on special event security and to answer questions about emerging security matters at Sochi.

The hosts expressed the general concerns many Americans have right now about security at the Olympics and the safety of our athletes and the members of their families who came to watch them compete.   And they asked provocative questions:

  • Do you believe one of the four “Black Widow” suicide bombers suspected of operating in the Dagestan region has really been killed?  
  • Given that the North Caucasus region is in turmoil – will this violence spill over into Sochi? 
  • Should we be concerned about the fact that the U.S. has sent warships to the area? 
  • Is the U.S. government aware of information that has not yet been released to the public?    

Arnette pointed to the broader risks beyond individual suicide bombers to the multiple factions in the area keen on making a statement and willing to turn to violence to do so.  He emphasized the challenges in being able to secure such a broad region – approximately 1,500 square miles.  He reminded listeners that the U.S. government is constantly assessing the risks and threats to our athletes, and is taking the steps it feels are necessary to mitigate them. I think he put it well: “The United States wants to be prepared to address any concerns for our citizens as they arise.  Given the intense focus in that part of the world right now, it’s a prudent step to make sure we have the resources that can respond to the needs of our citizens in the event that the worst situations evolve.” When asked if the risks outweigh the desire to continuing holding events like the Olympics, Arnette emphasized that, in spite of the risks, we trust that the Russian government and all the other countries with which it is collaborating have effective and adequate resources to address all threats.  “We have to continue living and preparing,” he said. “It is a question about managing risk.” Next week, we’ll be sharing more of our thoughts on security matters at the Sochi Olympics.  Check back in with us every Tuesday or Thursday, or subscribe to our Front Line blog. Got a question on security at Sochi or best practices in special event security for headline events like Super Bowl XLVIII on Sunday?  Let me know what’s on your mind.

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