Rep. Titus Introduces Legislation to Boost Security Support for Major Sports and Entertainment Events
Washington, November 3, 2023 | Demi Falcon (702-513-1851)
Washington, D.C. – Today Congresswoman Dina Titus (D-NV) introduced the DHS Special Events Program and Support Act with Congressman Richard Hudson (R-NC), legislation that would standardize, modernize, and streamline the Department of Homeland Security (DHS)’s ability to provide federal security and counterterrorism support for major sports and entertainment events, like the upcoming Las Vegas Grand Prix and Super Bowl LVIII.
The legislation would permanently codify DHS’s Special Event Assessment Rating (SEAR) system to assess and provide security support for “Special Events,” including festivals, parades, conventions, and other planned events at the state or local level where people gather in large numbers. Additionally, the bill requires internal periodic assessments of the SEAR process to keep pace with changing and increasingly sophisticated threat landscapes. The program that would be made permanent by Rep. Titus’s bill is not currently authorized.
“With multiple defending champion sports teams, world-class entertainment events, and business conventions with a global scope, cities like Las Vegas rely on federal support to supplement state and local security efforts. DHS is a vital partner in that work, and my legislation would make permanent their program that helps ensure that the kind of special events my district is known for stay safe and successful,” said Rep. Titus.
“Defending our Nation against its enemies so Americans can enjoy their day-to-day lives is a fundamental commitment of the Federal Government,” said Rep. Richard Hudson (R-NC). “This bill will ensure DHS has the resources to support state, local and tribal efforts to protect the events that bring us together, like NASCAR always did with my family.”
“The Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department deeply appreciates Representative Titus’s assistance in enhancing the SEAR process and securing the essential resources to maintain the safety of Las Vegas. Las Vegas has established itself as the premier international tourist destination, showcasing some of the most significant and distinguished events in the realms of sports and entertainment, including the 2024 Super Bowl. These events thrust our community onto the world stage nearly every week, underscoring the vital importance of maximizing federal support and funding to uphold safety standards,” said Beth Schmidt, Director of the Office of Intergovernmental Services at Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department (LVMPD).
“The continued success of Las Vegas is reliant on drawing major, global events to Las Vegas. Safety and security in and around these events is of the utmost importance, and providing that security has become increasingly complex. Passing this important legislation introduced by Congresswoman Titus would ensure that our local agencies have access to critical federal resources and crucial information as Las Vegas continues to move forward as the Sports and Entertainment Capital of the World,” said Steve Hill, CEO and President of the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority (LVCVA).
“I am extremely grateful to Congresswoman Titus for leading on this potentially lifesaving legislation. It is vital that we have support from the Department of Homeland Security to protect our visitors and residents during major events. Live entertainment and sports have become such an important part of our economy and success as a destination and the DHS Special Events Program and Support Act will be crucial as we continue to assert our reputation as the Sports Capital of the World,” said Michael Naft, District A Clark County Commissioner, LVMPD Fiscal Affairs Committee Vice Chair, and LVCVA Board Member.
“The Formula 1 Las Vegas Grand Prix is grateful for Congresswoman Titus’s leadership and dedication to the Las Vegas community. We appreciate her tireless efforts to make Las Vegas the best sports and entertainment destination in the world. The Department of Homeland Security is an essential partner in securing complex events like the Las Vegas Grand Prix, which will welcome 100,000 official spectators at its inaugural race this November. The DHS Special Events Program and Support Act will help foster collaboration among stakeholders and government officials to secure America’s premier events and we strongly support this bill,” said Renee Wilm, CEO of the Las Vegas Grand Prix.
This legislation is endorsed by the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority, the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department, and the Formula 1 Las Vegas Grand Prix.
A Special Event Assessment Rating (SEAR) event is a planned, high-profile event hosted by state, local, or private entities. DHS’s Special Events Working Group, comprised of representation from over 60 federal agencies and components of DHS, provides a security rating for special events in a given year to determine the level of federal support needed. The scope of that support ranges from explosive canine detection teams to air security and cyber risk assessments.
While DHS’s responsibility in assigning SEAR levels derives from a 2002 law creating the Department of Homeland Security, there is currently no dedicated source of funding for the program. This authorization legislation, in addition to bolstering and modernizing existing SEAR protocol, would allow Congress to appropriate dedicated SEAR funding in the future.