Four years ago, a Las Vegas-based private security company started with “a few hundred dollars and a laptop.”
This week, Protective Force International is sending most of its 260 officers down the tourist corridor for the upcoming NFL Draft, which co-founder and CEO Jonathan Alvarez has described as a precursor to an upcoming Formula One race on the Strip next year, and the 2024 Super Bowl at Allegiant Stadium.
“Everyone is on deck for this,” Alvarez said.
The officers will complement the large number of federal and local law enforcement officers who have been tapped to work on the three-day event that kicks off Thursday, Alvarez said. He compared the expected crowds to those seen at New Year’s Eve festivities in Las Vegas, but multiplied.
“You have 400,000 people arriving at the same time for one night,” said the 33-year-old. “When it’s done, it’s done. Think about it for three days in a row.
Las Vegas is expecting record draft attendance, with attendance estimated at up to 1 million visitors.
In the Las Vegas Valley, security guards outnumber police officers by about 10 to 1, Alvarez said, noting that his company “will force multiply the mission (of law enforcement) and ensure that every tourist has a good time”.
Clark County officials and the Metropolitan Police Department, which patrol the Strip and downtown Las Vegas, did not share details about what the police force will look like.
But Las Vegas police regularly tout their coordination with casino security and other private security services.
Preparations for the draft were no different, Alvarez said. The conversations started last year and preparations began to ramp up in February, he said, adding there were no known specific threats.
“A lot of our operations are already activated,” he said.
Company officials will be there to help prevent any potential problems, he said. Alvarez and his K-9, “Pele”, will also work.
“We are not law enforcement, but officers are expected to react, act and handle situations like a professional officer,” Alvarez said.
Officers from Protective Force International, which has contracts with more than 300 local entities, are actively patrolling and responding like police, some in marked cruisers, he said.
About 60% of the company’s officers are armed and all are certified in the use of batons and pepper spray, Alvarez said.
The company has regular academies and background checks are done on prospective security guards. They must all meet the requirements to carry a firearm: no felony and domestic violence convictions, or drug use, he said.
He said his cabinet is lobbying lawmakers to enact stricter training for private security guards.
“I think the community is starting to realize how important security and safety officers are to Southern Nevada’s infrastructure,” said Alvarez, who has previous experience as a combat engineer from the army and military police officer. “Without security we have no tourists, and without tourists we have no economy.”
He said he’s looking forward to Las Vegas continuing to hold draft-like events.
“I can’t wait for all the other giant events that are coming to Vegas,” Alvarez said.