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Starting next weekend, anyone attending a ticketed event at Robinson Center, the Statehouse Convention Center or the amphitheater in the River Market District in downtown Little Rock will have to pass through a magnetometer.

Officials with the Little Rock Convention and Visitors Bureau, which manages the event venues, said such safety measures are "the new normal."

"These new security procedures have become common practice in public assembly venues, and many promoters are requiring these type of security measures be in place," bureau President and Chief Executive Officer Gretchen Hall said. "While there is no perfect system, patron safety is our No. 1 priority and concern.

"We strive to ensure our patrons have an enjoyable and safe experience at events in our managed facilities. We hope all our patrons will be patient as our staff adapts to this new normal that we all face."

The magnetometers, commonly referred to as metal detectors, will first be used at a Robinson Center concert Jan. 21 featuring Jason Isbell and the 400 Unit. The concert is at 8 p.m.

The Convention and Visitors Bureau is asking that guests plan for the extra security step by arriving to the venues early for events and minimizing the number of items they take inside.

Attendees, vendors and employees will have to pass through the detectors for events. Pregnant women and anyone with a pacemaker will be screened with hand-held devices.

Patrons will not have to remove their hats, shoes, belts or watches. They will have to place their cellphones, keys or other metal objects on a security table before walking through the scanners.

New bag size limits also will be enforced. Bags and purses must be no larger than 14 inches by 14 inches by 6 inches. All bags will be searched.

No incident has occurred at a bureau-managed venue to prompt the policy, Communications Manager Libby Lloyd said.

"This is our continued effort to ensure patron safety," she said.

Items not allowed in the venues include: backpacks, weapons, knives, pepper spray, fireworks, outside food and beverages, skateboards, rollerblades, bicycles, helmets, beach balls, Frisbees, streamers, confetti, laptops and tablets, cameras, laser pointers, flashlights, balloons, spray paint, noise-making devices, signs, banners, selfie sticks, and audio and video recording devices except cellphones and authorized media equipment.

There are 13 live performance events booked so far at the bureau's three venues from January through May.

The agency defines a live performance as an event where the main purpose is to have an "artist-performed or artist-influenced display of sensory stimuli, including but not limited to those of an audio or video nature."

The Convention and Visitors Bureau purchased six walk-through magnetometers for a total of $39,814 and 10 hand-held detectors for $2,090.

Metro on 01/13/2018

Print Headline: Metal detectors ready for ticketed LR events

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