Concert safety consultant slams Texas task force report as ‘shallow’

AUSTIN (KXAN) – Five months after the Astroworld Festival tragedy, the final report from Governor Greg Abbott’s Texas Task Force on Concert Safety was released Tuesday, and a concert safety consultant doesn’t think it’s going far enough. far.

The nine-page report (seven pages without the cover and table of contents) sets out recommendations to keep concertgoers safe and prevent another wave of crowds like the one that killed 10 people and injured hundreds at last November’s festival in Houston. .

Suggestions include requiring centralized on-site command at events to quickly decide whether to close or pause concerts during emergencies.

Other recommendations direct event organizers to be clear about which agencies will respond to any 911 calls, to research artists ahead of time so they know what kind of audience to expect.

“It’s a very disappointing, very shallow report,” said Paul Wertheimer, who runs Crowd Management Strategies, a Los Angeles-based concert security consulting firm.

In 1979, Wertheimer was part of the task force that was assembled after a mob killed 11 people at a The Who concert in Cincinnati, Ohio.

He told KXAN that the findings in the Texas report, while good, are too general and “nothing new,” relying heavily on documents already available online and saying little about the application.

“He’s not going anywhere. They needed to put teeth into that report,” Wertheimer said. “You can’t just talk about training; you have to talk about what class of training.”

“And I didn’t see any mention in the report about the festival’s standing room environments, the kind of environment we saw at Astroworld,” he continued. “That is the most dangerous and deadliest crowd configuration for live entertainment events.”

The task force report lays out specific recommendations when it comes to permits for large events, suggesting a move to a universal template for statewide permits. At this time, the municipalities handle their own permits, while the unincorporated portions of the counties abide by state statutes.

That’s a problem, according to James Gresham, a board member of the Texas Municipal Police Association, who was part of the governor’s task force.

“For some counties, [overseeing permits] it’s a very labor-intensive process,” Greshman told KXAN. “Some counties, if they do, it’s more of a rubber stamp.”

Gresham, who helps facilitate the Larry Joe Taylor Texas Music Festival in Stephenville, said the Texas Legislature could help find permitting solutions during the next legislative session.

“Some states that have a very strong history of festivals, New York, California, for example, their planning requirements are much more extensive than what we have here in Texas,” he said.

Abbott’s office said no one was available Tuesday for an interview. Emailed questions were not answered by the deadline.

The Governor issued a brief statement alongside the reissue of the report, thanking the task force for their work and adding, “The recommendations, findings, and solutions detailed in this report will help the state of Texas prevent another Festival-like tragedy. Astroworld. happen again.”

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