For obvious reasons, there has been a fair amount of discussion on the news and elsewhere about how to increase security in movie theaters. While I am not a security expert, nor do I play one on the internet (except, perhaps right now), I do have some ideas that would increase theater security without creating “security theater.”
First, all doors, except for the front doors, should have monitored alarms. If any of those doors are opened, the theater security team should be alerted – either by having someone constantly watching the alarm board, or by an automated notification over the radio network that any coordinated security team should be monitoring. And, any time one of these doors is opened, security should respond to see if it was someone exiting out the back, someone or many people exiting due to an emergency that has otherwise gone unreported, or someone trying to sneak something or someone into the theater without passing the ticket takers.
Second, ticket takers should have enough training to note suspicious packages coming in, and the authority to ask that patrons with the suspicious packages have them checked out by security. This would probably need to be accompanied by signage that says “we maintain the right to inspect all bags and packages entering the theater.”
These two combined would probably have minimized, if not prevented, Friday morning’s events in Aurora CO. For the theaters, these will have the bonus of also adding additional checks against two of the ways that they can loose revenu: people sneaking friends in, and people sneaking in their own snacks.
They both would also require that the theaters maintain a security staff who may, or may not, also serve as ushers or in other roles. It also will probably require some training for the ticket takers and others so that they can identify suspicious packages and individuals. However, this would probably be less cost than some of the other, possibly less effective, suggestions such as adding magnetometers and entrance screening like found at courthouses, and some other places.