As tens of thousands of Winnipeg Jets fans hit downtown Tuesday for the team’s first home game of the series, security will be watching.
“As we grow a block we are adding more fencing, more toilets, more security and more man power,” True North Sports & Entertainment’s Kevin Donnelly told Global News. “There’s a domino effect. As you grow, as the crowd grows, you want to keep pace with the requirements.”
While specific security details are kept quiet and confidential, by both police and True North, one thing is for certain… attendees will be closely watched.
“People are watching,” Donnelly said. “We have surveillance locations. We are filming as well. So we’ve got the ability to record what’s happening.”
The Whiteout street party capacity has increased and can now hold 23,000 people in the licensed area and another 3,000 in the family zone.
But even before the increase, security changes had already happened.
After the very first playoff game the city moved dump trucks to block each of the four entrances for the remainder of the home games.
“We looked at the jersey barriers (concrete blockades) and what not,” Donnelly said. “They are difficult to move, of course that’s the whole idea, but the whole dump truck idea we thought accomplished the same goal and again was easier to move in and out. You do want to preserve the opportunity to quickly remove things in case of an urgent issue. So the truck element provides that too.”
However, that was before the deadly van attack happened in Toronto.
This is the first home game since 10 people were run down and killed in Toronto on April 23. Security experts believe that tragedy will have police departments in many Canadian cities focusing on further efforts and protection at large scale events.
“We see a lot of developing methods to protect the crowds,” Security expert Claude Sarrazin told Global News. “Means that are put in to prevent a high positioned shooter or an active shooter. Those vary from visible to non-visible uniformed officers on the perimeter and the inside of the event. After that, you’ve got plain clothes officers to interact with a possible threat.”
Sarrazin said many of those methods are not new but police officers across the country used shared intelligence to assess threats on a daily basis. Ahead of large scale events like the Whiteout street party, there would be significant discussions to come up with the best game plan.
“They’ll establish a game plan according to these possible threats, known threats and then the what ifs,” Sarrazin said. “Security isn’t taken lightly any longer in Canada.”
He also said there are a number of up and coming security measures that are being used more commonly in Canada.
“(The) use of drones is coming up. That is something that’s clearly on the way up,” Sarrazin said. “(The) use of different types of intelligence, electronic intelligence in the field, which can locate and evaluate certain kinds of risks in real time is something that is on the way up as well.”