Clockwise from top left, Tim Leiweke, Bill Bratton, Ben Tolle and Chris Robinette, Prevent Advisors and Oak View Group, Los Angeles.
Prevent Advisors, a stand-alone security consulting company owned by Oak View Group and boasting Bill Bratton, well-known law enforcement leader as chairman of the board and equity partner, is off and running.
The firm, which has been hinted at previously, formed in August with two military special ops pros, Chris Robinette and Ben Tolle, as CEO and COO respectively. They have spent the past three months researching the venue industry’s needs and forming a holistic approach to the growing concerns regarding security and counterterrorism.
Prevent Advisors is based on the concept of “industry best practices along with a new methodology far more inclusive over the private/public sector and in conjunction with the facilities themselves. We are developing new, efficient tools to deal with emerging threats like Paris and Orlando,” Robinette said, referring to terrorist attacks on nightclubs in those two cities. “There is a real shift in the threat rate. Venues are under a new risk profile.”
“Ben and I believe the right answer is outcome. We build around outcome-based results versus process or compliance,” Robinette said.
Tim Leiweke, OVG founder and CEO, said Prevent Advisors “is driven by our partners in the alliance and ultimately talking about a relentless commitment toward convenience and safety.” He was referring to the 24 major arenas that make up OVG’s Arena Alliance, including three primary research sites for the new firm – Madison Square Garden, New York; BB&T Center, Ft. Lauderdale, Fla., and the Forum, Inglewood, Calif.
“One of the biggest issues concerning our industry is security,” said Peter Luukko, co-chairman, Arena Alliance and partner in OVG as well as CEO of the Florida Panthers. “One bad incident could set the whole industry back.” It’s probably the biggest issue with sports team owners, he said, and the threat that keeps venue managers awake at night.
“This is something Bill Bratton and I have talked about for two years,” Leiweke said. “So when the Alliance brought it up as well it was an easy hole for us to fill. I don’t think there is anything really in this space aimed directly at the live entertainment facility business. Having Bill as our chairman and having the two guys we found in Chris and Ben, we put together a very informed, experienced, knowledgeable group of folks able to provide some real thinking and, more importantly, solutions to our industry on how to keep our fans safe and our buildings and our stadiums secure.”
Bratton, former Los Angeles Police Department chief and New York Police Department Commissioner, is current executive chairman and senior managing director of Teneo Risk. He has invested his time and his name and his money in Prevent Advisors. Part of the timing for forming the company was based on Bratton first leaving his New York police commissioner post.
While Prevent Advisors is available to Arena Alliance members, both at Arena Alliance conferences held twice a year, which Bratton will also attend, and for additional services which members can purchase at a discounted rate, Leiweke envisions it as worldwide and all inclusive to this specific industry.
“We have 24 members of the alliance, but we have thousands of arenas that ultimately will want to talk to these folks about how they can create a safer environment for their customers and fans. This will grow like a weed,” Leiweke said. “They have already identified another half dozen people they know in the special ops defense industry that have been working on very similar kinds of tasks in very difficult and tough places. They are bringing on additional manpower.”
Colleges, universities, stadiums and arenas, clubs and theaters, and football stadiums around the world are potential clients of this venue-unique group, Leiweke said. “It’s an international effort because these gentlemen are experienced internationally.”
Cognizant of the fact price is always a concern, Leiweke said they have a rate card geared toward individual appetites for service. “If you want an audit, it’s not a lot of money; this will be reasonable,” Leiweke said. OVG took the approach that the industry can’t ultimately go out and spend $500,000 to $1 million to build these outcomes themselves. “I see it the opposite way. We took the risk of building the company and spending what we spent and giving everyone these resources for a small period of time with a very reduced rate without them having to try to formulate this on their own.”
Robinette and Tolle have been focused on information gathering, “to understand where the needle is to get a sense for how we can build unique and tailored solutions to the threat, but understanding everyone has a different lifecycle or different resources available,” Robinette said.
“Ben and I have spent a lot of time in the military special operations community doing infrastructure security and support operations overseas in a volatile environment, so we’re taking that methodology for solutions and tailoring products and services to build around an outcome versus being simply compliant to league standards or industry notions.”
He noted that managers and security staff in venues are hard at work running the buildings day to day. Tolle and Robinette are busy understanding and vetting the technology out there. Robinette was surprised at how fragmented parts buying and parts selling is in the venue security world and believes Prevent Advisors can help venues build a holistic solution, “everything from metal detectors to dogs to perimeter security to technology that allows people to understand who is coming in and out of venues and tying that into local law enforcement and emergency services personnel. We’re trying to give them an uplift into emerging tools. The precept is everybody has a different budget, resources, threat profile, geographical limitations or advantages. Given all those factors, we create the best possible safety outcome.”
The real competing factor is the threat level, Robinette said. “The environment is evolving so quickly, best practices don’t always meet the standard, so we are trying to help arenas build a very adaptive platform, very adaptive model, so if the environment changes or a tactic or threat element changes, we can accommodate that.”
Robinette and Tolle don’t view the challenge as protecting just the venue itself either. “We are trying to develop a driveway to driveway, end to end secure technology. From the time the guest leaves their home, they are entering into that secured eco system. There is much more use of intelligence-driven security, social media, efficient use of canine teams around expanded perimeters, drones – Ben and I are building systems so people have a better understanding of who is in their venues at a granular level and systems that communicate that in real time to law enforcement, both on a preventive focus and in response to emergency services. A lot of companies are doing innovative things; Ben and I are building a fabric by which all these systems are layered and communicate so it’s not just a physical perimeter or security, but a conceptual one that goes far beyond the venue itself.”
Robinette likened it to the approach he is most familiar with, government infrastructure. The goal is to bring sport and entertainment venues, which now have a similar risk profile, to that level of security. The military builds open-ended software so they can adjust and adapt. Updates should be a very simple addition, he said.
The ultimate goal: The right outcome.
Prior to joining Prevent Advisors, Robinette was employed at Goldman Sachs in the Investment Management Division in San Francisco. He spent 11 years in the US Army, beginning his service with a combat tour in Iraq with the 101st Airborne Division and served operational tours in the Middle East, Africa and in Eastern Europe in support of NATO partnership development programs as a Special Forces officer. Additionally, he served as an instructor with the Special Operations Training Detachment at the Joint Readiness Training Center.
Tolle spent 11 years in the U.S. Army and has been assigned to multiple units including the 101st Airborne Division and most recently 7th Special Forces Group and has extensive experience in evaluating, mitigating, and responding to both existing and emerging threat vulnerabilities. During his tenure he has participated in and supported numerous combat and contingency operations supporting worldwide interagency and partner nation stakeholders throughout the Middle East, Central Asia and South America.
Bratton boasts a 46-year career in law enforcement, leading six police departments, including seven years as Chief of the Los Angeles Police Department and two nonconsecutive terms as the Police Commissioner of the City of New York. He is the only person ever to lead the police agencies of America’s two largest cities. As the Executive Chairman of Teneo Risk, Bratton advises clients on risk identification, prevention and response. Teneo Risk addresses four key areas: Anti-Terrorism Preparedness; Crisis Preparedness & Response; Cyber Security & Data Protection; and Smart City Planning.
Interviewed for this story: Tim Leiweke, Chris Robinette and Ben Tolle, (310) 954-4800; Peter Luukko, (954) 835-7333