The Saenger Theater in Downtown Hattiesburg is host to numerous public events throughout the year, including multiple in the coming weeks.
Rick Taylor is the Executive Director of the Hattiesburg Convention Commission that runs the theater. Taylor and his team take the security of their patrons very seriously.
“We are very much attuned to our patrons as they come in to our facilities from any location, any point of entry,” said Taylor. “And looking not only at that but with out surveillance systems just to see something that might be out of the ordinary that bears further inspection.”
Rick couldn’t get into specifics when discussing the security measures that the venues use, but he did say that they hire off-duty police officers for the most part and the staff is trained for situations like an active shooter.
“In the event of an active shooter, our staff are trained in, first and foremost, getting our patrons to a safe location,” said Taylor. “With an active shooter, we want, if at all possible, to get [our patrons] out of the vicinity. We not only train on that, we study that and we practice that.”
One challenge that Taylor faces is dealing with Mississippi’s concealed carry law for firearms.
“With concealed carry, this is something we’re addressing. We’ve got to address this at all of our facilities, and that is do we now require magnetometers (metal detectors) at all entry points?” Taylor explained.
Taylor acknowledges that this might be difficult due to Mississippi’s concealed carry laws, but has not ruled it out.