Americans Prefer Added Security at Public Venues, USC Study Finds

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LOS ANGELES — In the 19 years since the 9/11 terrorist attacks, Americans remain willing to pay more for counterterrorism and anti-crime security at public venues, according to a USC study released Wednesday.

Since Sept. 11, 2001, Americans have seen significant increases in counterterrorism security in public venues, including more video surveillance cameras, metal detectors, bag checks and security guards. This has caused business leaders and federal officials to wonder if additional measures deter patrons and result in any economic losses for these venues, reports USC News. Or have Americans grown accustomed to a layered security approach?

To answer these and other related questions, the USC Center for Risk and Economic Analysis of Terrorism Events (CREATE) conducted surveys of patrons of events, or those who thought of attending, at three large venues: a Major League Baseball stadium, an arena that hosts NBA games and NHL matches, and a metropolitan-area convention center.

The researchers included responses from a representative sample of 1,276 adults who had attended or intended to attend an event at public venues in the past four years or sometime in the near future.

“Our study indicates that terrorism countermeasures actually resulted in higher attendance at public venues such as stadiums, arenas and convention centers,” said Adam Rose, a study team leader who is the director of CREATE and a research professor at the USC Price School of Public Policy. “This results in a sizeable increase in revenues at these types of sites, ranging from 8 to 59%, and a significant increase in activity for the surrounding economy, though it is relatively small in percentage terms.”

The public appears to have adapted to the increased security measures deployed at public venues in the time since 9/11, and particularly following the numerous lone wolf-type attacks in the past several years, according to Rose and co-author Richard John, a CREATE associate director specializing in risk perception.

“Beliefs, attitudes, and intentions to attend events employing security measures are consistent across the three venues,” said John. “The similarity of these response patterns suggests that our findings are generalizable across a broad range of public assembly venues in the U.S.”

Some survey respondents said that they would be willing to pay more than $5 to attend events to cover additional measures to increase security. Almost 1 in 2 (48%) said they would pay at least $5 for a 90% reduction in risk of a terrorism event, and 38% said they were willing to pay at least $5 for even just a 10% reduction.

Such responses indicate “that it is not actually risk reduction that the customers value but the act of increasing countermeasures,” the researchers wrote.

The report predates the onset of the coronavirus pandemic, which has forced venues to halt public events. The report’s authors suggest pandemic-related safety measures like wearing masks, social distancing and temperature checks may take some time to be accepted by patrons.

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