UPDATE, 4:06 PM: Getting into the 70th Primetime Emmys today seemed easier than in past years, but actually getting to the big television ceremony at the Microsoft Theater is proving a real grind.
Those traveling west in DTLA on Venice on Monday toward the parking lots near the Staples Center area found that the major boulevard was largely closed down between Hope St. and L.A. Live. Traffic officers tried to circumvent traffic down Washington, which created further clutter due to the cross traffic from the electric Metro trains.
Why is there greater gridlock than last year?
Well, security concerns but also blame it on the fact that the Emmys aren’t taking place this year on a sleepy Sunday afternoon downtown. It’s an actual workday for those not attending the TV Academy ceremony, which right now means people are trying to get the jump on rush hour and snaring things up as a result.
While law enforcement officials Monday confirmed to Deadline that drone technology was heavily in use, to the naked eye the police presence was lighter than in previous years.
There was a lone cop car at L.A. Live near the parking lot entrances, a stretch that in the past years would be populated with a heavy police presence, including SWAT and K-9 trucks. Those officials would check trucks and underneath cars something we haven’t seen in action in 2018. Now it’s all eyes in the sky.
PREVIOUSLY, SEPT. 14 PM: If the atmosphere inside the 70th Primetime Emmys on Monday could be heavy on the multi-nominated Game of Thrones, outside the Microsoft Theater, the security buzzwords this year will be drones, more drones and even more drones.
“New technology offers new opportunities and we plan to utilize drones in a greater capacity this year that ever before for Monday’s ceremony,” a prominent law enforcement source told Deadline of the procedures in place for the Emmys in downtown L.A. “As security concerns evolve, multiple eyes in the sky enhance our established protocols to allow the creation and maintenance of a tighter perimeter around the venue, performers and guests,” said the source of TV’s biggest night and the LAPD-led efforts to make sure the trophies are handed out without any avoidable issues.
Officially, as often is the case around such big-ticket events as the Emmys, Grammys or Oscars, the LAPD is being extremely circumspect.
“We don’t give specifics for tactical reasons, but we are more than prepared,” Officer Tony Im told Deadline today. “We will as always make sure the citizens of Los Angeles and attendees at the event are safe.” On a day when security seemed rather minimal around the L.A Live complexes, Officer Drake Madison of the department’s Media Relations Division said, “At this time, we have not received any credible or verifiable threats to the Emmy Awards show.”
Yet, unofficially, we hear that with officers and other security deployed both visibly and BTS, the significant addition of drones to this year’s Emmys also allows the LAPD, Homeland Security and others a further flexibility leading up to the already deeply locked-down event. Unlike the past years with explosions in NYC and New Jersey in 2016 and a deadly blast on London’s Underground on the eve of last year’s Emmys, this year’s best of the small screen thankfully seems to be free of looming international tensions for now.
However, knowledgeable individuals warn Deadline that even with diminished immediate stresses, no one should think that there will be less of a police presence at the Emmys, even if attendees can’t necessarily see it. “For events like the Emmys, it is good to have officers on site and security stations, but the best shield is a near-invisible one,” said the law enforcement source of the security that will be taking place out of sight on Monday.
“There are a number of alerts from various intel sources and they’re not going to stop,” says Kent Moyer, President and CEO of the World Protection Group, whose firm is involved with security at one of Monday night’s prolific parties, “I doubt any security budgets are being cut this year.”
Admitting what the police won’t say publicly, he added, “One thing we’re thinking about this year that we didn’t a year ago at the Emmys is the use of drones.”
Drones have been heavily on law enforcement and private security firm’s minds following the attack on Venezuela President Nicolás Maduro last month. And while drones used by the LAPD, Sheriff’s Department or private security would not be armed, they can prevent a significant amount of damage with their search-and-find function toward nefarious perpetrators.
In the wake of the Las Vegas shooting nearly a year ago, the thinking in official circles is that drone security could have saved several lives in that tragedy. When deployed within minutes, a drone potentially could have scoped out the shooter’s whereabouts and size up the surroundings to assist law enforcement in providing the proper defense.
This year, as law enforcement put its own drone plans in play, Moyer is providing his private clients with drone-protection options at their events. “A drone is like a canine,” he said. While there are FFA rules that prevent drones in the airspace, law enforcement easily can work around these in guarding such prolific events as L.A. Rams games and the Emmys.
Also per Moyer, in the future expect to see “drone countermeasure systems.” Essentially at a cost of $2K-$10K, drones can be hired to monitor rival drones in the airspace and determine if they are safe or armed.
Yet as it has in the past and three days before the Emmys, the LAPD also stressed that attendees themselves can be the best protection.
“As with all special events, we plan for the worst and hope for the best and will have plenty of security to ensure everyone is safe and enjoys the show,” Officer Madison emphasized to Deadline. “With that said, ‘See Something, Say Something’ should always be in the forefront of everyone’s mind. If you see something suspicious in nature, law enforcement should be notified.”