Over the past week, there has been movement about to secure the area around UNLV Thomas & Mack Center, home to the final 2016 presidential debate on Wednesday. The center and surrounding parking structures and buildings are surrounded by makeshift walls and security teams. Now as we enter the final days and hours before the event, Las Vegas itself starts its lockdown.
As a chauffeur on the Las Vegas Strip following the 9/11 attacks, I got to see some of the unseen security hero’s of Las Vegas and some of the ways this town works to keep it’s tourism machine safe from harm. The little increases of movements of people, special vehicles, and surveillance equipment most tourists would never notice. And I am seeing that same dance happening in and around the Las Vegas tourist corridor now.
That’s the cool thing about Las Vegas security. We never want the tourist to feel like they are being watched or have a reason to start to think that things may not be as safe as they should be. So most of the security is undercover, stealth or just not detectable to the average person. Unless you work the Strip and have learned a few things about how they keep the tourist corridor safe. We want the tourist to be left alone to let go, relax and be free to wander, spend and indulge in their fantasy while being held safely in a bubble of some of the best protection known to mankind.
Having learned what I know about how Las Vegas works, how they protect the tourist and what the casinos and law enforcement does to make sure their little Gold Goose (gaming) is not to be disturbed, I have always believed Las Vegas has the safest tourist corridor in the nation, if not the world.
So now with the world once again about to focus itself on Las Vegas for the final debate in what has been a chaotic, turbulent and sometimes dangerous election year, along with the Rolling Stones opening the first of a two-night stay, Las Vegas, Vegas is kicking back into lockdown mode – “Vegas Style!”
“UNLV is honored to be the site for the final 2016 presidential debate, as we believe it will bring a unique energy to one of the most diverse campuses in the country. A core mission of a university is to educate future leaders and having the final presidential debate will allow students to experience the political process first-hand and better understand how public policy impacts their lives.” –UNLV President Len Jessup
Lockdown Vegas Style?
Vegas style is making sure the tourists feel no real difference from one day to another, yet knowing security is being beefed up. The tourists is here and they know something big is happening in town, yet have no need to question their safety while also letting those who think they can disrupt our little adult playground, “it ain’t going to happen”.
In most other towns, an event like this would cause a complete shut-down of the area days before the event. More barricades, detectors, serious road closures with a very noticeable increase in security personnel. But this is Vegas, we are used to major events, high profile people in town and we know how to make it all look like nothing big is happening. “Nothing to see here folks” – We’re good at making it look like just another day in paradise when in reality, it isn’t.
Checking out Thomas & Mack today, I can tell you a mouse can’t cross that parking lot without the FBI and Secret Service knowing what hole it came from and who’s it’s momma! Besides making Thomas & Mack into a fortress guarded by some of the best military-grade technology, the rest of the Strip is having its own little lockdown. A couple more helicopters circling above, more black SUV’s with beefed up suspension and dark tinted windows that you would assume are limo’s but are not, slowly prowling the casinos and being parked in some very obscure places. More Metro officers are in uniform and on duty. More casino’s polishing their camera lenses and suited personnel patrolling the grounds or walking slower through the gaming areas.
Starting Wednesday afternoon, the entire area surrounding the Strip will have periodic road closures, roadblocks and security points of entry. Again, creating the security bubble we usually see (or not) on New Year’s Eve and other major celebrations in Las Vegas. Only this time a little tighter. The Strip area inside that bubble will function as close to normal as it can. The tourist will be as undisturbed as possible.
As much as I would love to be down on the Strip to see the crazies and wack jobs this debate will bring out in force as well as the sane and patriotic here to stand their ground, I am also wanting to be as far away from it all as possible. Catching the updates on social media and see just how much more bias the media will be while Las Vegas shows off what it does best; letting people have fun and keeping them safe.