Public venue managers come together for unprecedented active shooter training

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RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) – Managers of the region’s largest public venues came together in Raleigh Wednesday for a first-of-its-kind training session on dealing with emergencies such as active shooters.

Mark Herrera, a former police officer who works for the International Association of Venue Managers, trained people on assessing threats and how to diffuse situations before they escalate to a crisis.

“And in this case at a venue, we have a duty to act. And, we’re vicariously liable for each and every person. So, everybody has stake in the game,” he said.

Hundreds of people attended Wednesday’s training, including emergency responders, members of the faith-based community and managers of the largest performing arts and entertainment venues in the region.

While many places in the Triangle have added cameras, metal detectors and security guards in recent years, he stressed the importance of training everyone at those sites on how to recognize and respond to unusual behavior and practicing how to handle emergencies.

“When crisis hits a community, it affects everyone. When it hits a venue or affects a venue or organization, it absolutely affects everyone,” he said.

Kerry Painter, who recently took over as director of the Raleigh Convention Center, said Wednesday’s training was a first for the region.

“We need to be on our game. We need to continuously be thinking about the next thing, about continuous training, about trying to just be our best at keeping everyone safe as they come through,” she said. “Keeping your eyes on who comes through. Times have changed. And so, facilities need to continually evolve as well.”

Painter also oversees Red Hat Amphitheater, the Duke Energy Center for the Performing Arts and Coastal Credit Union Music Park at Walnut Creek.

The convention center had nearly half a million visitors last year, she said.

“You need to be aware. You need to continue to communicate just so that everybody knows they’re all a part of the whole plan,” she said.

Tony Bunch, of Redeeming Love Missionary Baptist Church in Raleigh, said security has become a much greater concern at his church than it was ten years ago when he first joined.

“With the news, it happens in other places. It could happen here in North Carolina,” he said.

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