Last summer, Todd Kmentt transitioned his more than 20 years of experience in federal law enforcement and global security to Michigan. We gave him a few months to settle into his new role as director of global safety and security at George P. Johnson Experience Marketing (GPJ), headquartered in Auburn Hills, before asking him how planners and GPJ clients can improve security at their events.

MIM+E: Why and how did you get into the security industry?
I’ve always been told by those that I am close to that I have a very protective nature. In essence, that I embody GPJ’s corporate vision, “Passionate. Collaborate and Fearless.” I believe these attributes led me to a career in safety and security where I have consistently protected individuals and teams in a myriad of situations while also proactively uncovering potential challenges to mitigate threats.

MIM+E: What type of projects are you focusing on at GPJ?
I’m currently focusing on expanding GPJ’s safety and security offerings for our robust clientele as well as defining our emergency preparedness to ensure the safest possible environments for all of our stakeholders (employees, attendees, vendors, etc.). GPJ wants our attendees to focus on the phenomenal activations and experiential concepts we create in tandem with brands. We’ll be in the background ensuring safety and security.

MIM+E: How has the security business changed over the past 10 years?
Throughout the past decade, specifically, prior to 9/11, the majority of intense security concerns were predicated on political or geographical issues. Compared to today, where the prevalence and occurrence of first person/active assailant concerns for all people (whether it is travel related, public forums, etc.) are deeply rooted and a common thread across all areas.

MIM+E: How can planners ensure that their activities are secure?
It’s paramount to coordinate thorough pre-event planning, security, and programming and to arrange ongoing communication meetings with appropriate stakeholders (internal/external) before/during/after the event. In doing so, planners can work to mitigate issues, plan accordingly, ensure requirements are met and discuss crisis management planning and guidelines in the event something emergent should occur.

MIM+E: How can planners and venues work together better on safety issues?
It is essential that there is a cohesive working relationship between the planners/clients and the venue while continually striving to have ongoing communication and open dissemination of information to effectively accelerate the relationships with the parties involved and inspire engagement. Preparation and planning meetings, shared programming and documents, run-of-show, emergency service information, crisis planning guidelines and action plans and relevant equipment should be transparent for all activations among appropriate teams and leaders.

MIM+E: What top three security recommendations would you offer to those coordinating (planners) and hosting (venues) larger meetings and events?
Potential suggestions include:
• Pre-event security planning with internal and external stakeholders
• Ongoing communication on-site (planning teams, host, security detail) to ensure there is no suspicious activity and/or rapid response in the event of an emergency
• Ensure clear understanding of what motivates the planner/brand to optimize the brand and its recognition, which can be protected through a coordinated crisis management plan

MIM+E: What initial safety steps do you recommend for events?
An initial step would be an evaluation of the event and developing a business continuity plan to identify the risks, threats or vulnerabilities that could impact the event's continuous operation and provide that a security framework is in place for building organizational resilience and the capability for an effective response. I would not differentiate on size and scale when utilizing this initial step.

MIM+E: Do indoor and outdoor events present different security concerns?
Both indoor and outdoor venues pose unique challenges, but ultimately success resides in creating a security environment that is unobtrusive and esthetically pleasing, all while providing a safe, secure and enjoyable experience for all attendees.

MIM+E: At what size function should planners include security contractors into their planning process?
I would always defer to utilizing a security contractor in the planning process, regardless of the size and when possible, engage with local authorities.

With restrictions across the country in a state of constant flux, not everyone is ready to jump back into meeting in person. While some planners are eager to get back to “normal,” the long-term adjustment to new protocols and potential risks make some hesitant to gather.

While wearing masks and social distancing can help keep attendees safe, intentional design choices—such as including natureinspired elements and materials and plenty of plants—can also help calm attendees.


Lansing isn't just the capital of Michigan, but it’s also the central hub for the entire state—literally; it’s located within 90 minutes of 90 percent of the state’s population, making it both eventful and accessible for groups located throughout the state.


I once managed a conference for a group of 100 high-level members of the U.S. defense industry. When I poked my head into the back of the room during the plenary session, I was overwhelmed by the gravity of the presenter’s content.

But even more concerning was that few people appeared to be paying attention. From my vantage point, I could see that 
the majority of participants were on their phones and tablets engaged in everything from social media to email to creating a PowerPoint presentation.