The Shooting from the Hotel in Las Vegas – Hotel Security in Israel

April 10, 2018 – 12:00 pm
by Miky Weinberg

The shooting that took place this week [in October] in the vibrant gambling city of Las Vegas was perpetrated by Stephen Paddock, an American citizen who took a room on the 32nd floor of the Mandalay Bay Hotel and turned it into a war room, thoroughly planned and orchestrated to coincide with a music festival attended by thousands that served as his opportunity to vent personal frustration via the biggest mass murder to ever occur in the U.S. at the hands of an American citizen.

The cold-blooded murderer opened fire for 9 -11 minutes, managing to kill 59 innocent civilians and to wound over 500, some of them very seriously.

Details of the event that have been reported paint a difficult and worrisome picture regarding mass event security and hotel security.  In the context of civilian security in Israel, I believe that the aforementioned event should be a large red flag for the government of Israel, for the security division of the Israeli police force and for all those hotels with appointed CEO’s and CSO’s.  This is the time to stop and rethink everything having to do with mass event security and especially with hotel security.

In order to understand why I believe this, I recommend watching the footage of the event in Las Vegas:

Hotels in Israel are secured according to the guidelines of the Security Division of the Israeli Police Force that determine the required level of security based on the number of rooms in the hotel and the occupancy percentage.  As someone who has walked around in hotels quite a lot as part of my job, I can allow myself to state that the level of security in most of the hotels in Israel does not provide an adequate response to the threats cited by the police, as a supervising authority, and certainly couldn’t deal with events similar to the shooting in Las Vegas.

And again, I recommend watching the following footage showing the despicable murderer’s room:

You don’t have to be a security expert to understand that the killer planned his actions in advance, booking the room far enough in advance to have time to bring in all the weapons, rig the room with cameras, and prepare it for the moment of truth, 9-11 minutes of deadly gunfire that kills and maims innocent civilians.  The film raised a number of questions for me that are directly connected to the hotel’s security with regard to security in Israel:

To what degree is the CSO in control of the list of the hotel’s guests, and to what extent does it allow him to identify suspicious signs?

Is the hotel networked with cameras that allow control of its public areas and is the hotel security headquarters capable of gleaning information from them in real time?

Are the hotel employees and security personnel trained to recognize suspicious signs in a room or in its immediate vicinity?

Does the control of the entrances to the hotel, including those connected to underground parking lots, channel the hotel’s guests through an entry or exit route that allows security to identify suspicious signs in a person or in his/her luggage?

Is the hotel’s security force trained to respond to every threat defined in the hotel’s security operational plan?

Do the CEO, the CSO, the employees, and the security force have maximum control over everything that happens on the hotel’s premises?

A hotel is a private facility that offers accommodations and entertainment outside the civilian’s home and allows him or her to rent a room for a certain amount of time for a given price, and in that context to use the hotel’s various facilities.  In the mission clause in the hotel’s security operational plan it states that the security of the hotel is carried out in order to prevent and thwart any injury of anyone staying on the premises, employees and guests.

In reality, can a person who took a room in a hotel in Israel be sure that he/she is being protected from the threats that were defined?  Can he/she be sure that the hotel personnel in the different positions indeed know what’s going on in it?  Can he/she be positive that they’ll complete their stay at the hotel without injury or heaven forbid, death?

Most of the civilians who come to a hotel are totally innocent and come for the purpose of rest and recreation, but there are some who take advantage of the hotel platform to commit criminal acts and /or terrorist activities, if only because they feel comfortable there and sense a lack of supervision.

I remember that when I had just started out as a security guard in the General Security Services in ’91, I was sent to Moscow Base in Russia for three months. I stayed at the Sputnik Hotel, where on every floor there was an old lady 24/7 whose only job was to see and document everything that happened on that floor, who came in, who left, what they did, who they spoke to, etc.  Nothing slipped past her eyes and her ears.  Control. 100% control.

With regard to hotel security in Israel, I believe we must achieve maximum control over everything that happens on the hotel premises, and certainly an event with the characteristics of the one that happened in Las Vegas.

That kind of control is achieved by a combination of trained, skilled personnel and technology that creates proven deterrence and the capability for swift and determined identification and response, all without damaging the hotel’s intended purpose as a profitable business.  In the hotels in Israel there is security that complies with the guidelines of the Israeli Police, but its actual level is not high and doesn’t meet the standards of the written requirements.

Every guest in every hotel must see and feel the security that’s in place there and must understand that he/she is visible 24/7 in the public areas.

The proper and serious regard of the field of security by the CEO and the CSO of the hotel will lead to the understanding that security, though often considered solely an expense, plays an integral role in achieving the hotel’s goals as a financial enterprise, and will result in the recruitment of higher quality personnel for the security positions.

The aforementioned event emphasizes the importance of the hotel headquarters as a place that controls the public areas with the help of visible and hidden cameras and is capable of identifying irregular behavior of a guest or even of a hotel employee.  Today the cameras and the active headquarters take the place of the old lady sitting in the Russian hotel in the 90’s.

In my opinion, it’s time for the Hotel Association of Israel, together with the Israeli Police, in addition to rating the quality of each hotel’s service, to rate the level of its security so the innocent civilian can know and decide if it suits him or her to stay in a hotel with the designated level of security.  Perhaps this type of rating would prompt the CEO’s and CSO’s to regard security more seriously.

The wise thing in security and in general is to know how to learn from events that happened outside of Israel in order to check if there’s a need to make changes in the current state of affairs.  I believe that the shooting in Las Vegas is just such an event that we can learn from in order to improve the level of security in hotels in Israel.

Remember, security must be achieved by gaining complete control over everything that happens under your jurisdiction.