Crowd Specialist Helps Develop Much Safer Places

At this time of year, “crowds” can be something of an unclean word– conjuring up images of packed mall and New Year’s events getting precariously, even criminally, out of hand.

When Tamara Madensen-Herold turns her eye on gathering areas– from particular street corners to enormous arenas– she looks for methods to alleviate the dangers that accompany intricate crowd dynamics.

Through a lens that blends psychology and criminology with city design, the criminal justice professor dissects environments and human behavior for hints on the best ways to keep crowds safe.

“Criminal activity researchers study places– the way that they’re created and managed and how these factors influence human behavior,” she stated. “We try to find methods to control environments in order to develop safe areas,” she said.

She partners with authorities departments and security groups around the nation to assess the effect of specific location attributes on crowd habits and security.

“There’s no cookie-cutter approach to creating safe environments. We cannot utilize the same physical style or management technique in all spaces or for all occasions,” Madensen-Herold said. “In one place, more entry and exit points may increase crowd security. In another area, it may not.”

With proper methods, nevertheless, cops and security officials can assist to decrease criminal activity in a given location or quicker bring back order and safety after the mayhem of a catastrophic occasion such as the Oct. 1 mass shooting in Las Vegas, Madensen-Herold said.

“I still believe that Las Vegas represents the very best in crowd security and management,” she said of the location’s crowd security methods. “The outcome of every occasion presents a chance to assess and find out. We’ll dissect the dynamics of exactly what took place (at the shooting), and we’ll ask ourselves exactly what we can do to even more improve security at these events.”

In the rare cases of such massive catastrophes, Madensen-Herold said the secret is front-line personnel training to secure for potential threats or reduce chaos in the consequences.

Madensen-Herold’s work in the field began when she was a Ph.D. student right after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. She was the very first college student at the University of Cincinnati to concentrate on the blossoming location of criminal offense science, likewise referred to as environmental criminology.

Her work given that has concentrated on avoidance strategies that make it more difficult for transgressors to engage in crime and condition.

“We deal with cops departments and cities to interfere with criminal activity opportunities in particular areas. We eliminate the place networks that culprits utilize to participate in illegal activities. Unlawful enterprises require locations to run– by getting rid of access to or changing the characteristics within specific places, you make it harder for culprits to commit violence and other types of crime,” Madensen-Herold said.

She partnered with Cincinnati authorities to develop a violence-reduction strategy for persistently violent hotspots. The program, called PIVOT (Place-based Examinations of Violent Offender Territories), significantly minimized crime in targeted locations and has actually drawn interest from a number of other cops departments. Her team earned the 2017 Herman Goldstein Award for Excellence in Problem-Oriented Policing for their efforts. Now as the director of UNLV’s brand-new Crowd Management Research Council, Madensen-Herold is bridging the gap in between academic theory and practice.

She has actually partnered with regional cops firms, security chiefs on the Las Vegas Strip, and other UNLV researchers to optimize strategies for traveler safety and security. The idea, which happened more than a year ago from an on-going academic-practitioner collaboration, will allow UNLV to act as a resource for the local community on traveler security concerns.

“Crowd management is about annoyances. It includes little things that are in some cases challenging to quantify,” she stated. “The objective is for UNLV to take our cumulative proficiency and act as a resource for our greater community. It will provide a platform for generating knowledge and sharing it.”

It’s yet another location in which UNLV is assisting the region capitalize on its strength as an international leader in tourism and become an exporter of intellectual capital throughout other disciplines.

“The center will broaden our capacity to give back to our neighborhood and shorten the timeframe for generating understanding. We will share exactly what we find out with the people who are developing policies and practicing security each and every single day,” Madensen-Herold said.

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