By Mary Klida
Marlon Wilson joined the ASM Global operations team in Huntington Place as the new Director of Public Safety. Wilson assumes the senior leadership responsibilities of overall direction, coordination, and evaluation of the Department of Public Safety and Security, taking on proactive initiatives with a focus on protection and service.
“Safety is one of the top concerns for meeting planners,” said Karen Totaro, CVE, general manager of Huntington Place/ASM Global. “Having the depth of Marlon Wilson’s experience along with his ability to articulate plans in a way that makes our clients feel safe and cared for will be instrumental to our future.”
Wilson comes to the venue with 26 years of law enforcement and critical management experience. Most recently, Wilson served as Deputy Chief of the Detroit Police Department (DPD) and as Executive Officer in both the Major Crimes and Organized Crime Divisions. He rose through the ranks throughout his career in the DPD since 1995 receiving numerous awards including Officer of the Year. He formed the agency’s Cyber Crimes and Arson Units. He also served as Commanding Officer of the Professional Standards Bureau.
“This is truly a monumental moment in my career, and I am extremely excited to have this role launch the next phase of my law enforcement and public safety journey,” Wilson said. “For over 27 years, I have been given the honor and privilege to help protect and serve the citizens of Detroit.”
Public Safety is increasingly becoming a top priority for convention centers and other venues. Wilson will be working to train Huntington Place staff on the latest safety and security protocols for venues in conjunction with the International Association of Venue Managers (IAVM) later this year. The IAVM is committed to provide innovative safety and security guidelines and training so as to assist venues and their executive teams in managing with the priority of protecting all aspects related to life-safety and physical assets. They also provide education, resources, advocacy and certification to event industry professionals and venue managers.
“I look forward to continuing my mission of the highest standard of safety and security for every team member, patron, and vendor who visits and interacts with Huntington Place,” Wilson added. “I plan to use my longstanding law enforcement background to implement protocols and procedures that create the safest and most conducive environment possible for all.”
Mark Herrera, director of safety and security for the IAVM, oversees the industry’s Academy for Venue Safety and Security and will work with Wilson to roll out the training in Huntington Place. Herrera has seen a growing demand for guidance related to security issues in the aftermath of the Jan. 6 attack on the US Capitol. He has conducted over 420 training sessions to leadership and frontline teams on Behavioral Indication and Risk Mitigation through Guest Service Interjection. The training emphasizes developing teams capable of providing exceptional focus, performance, and control in extreme situations.
“Facilities such as Huntington Place under the direction of GM Karen Totaro pride themselves with creating better experiences within the venue industry inclusive of all facilities which is more important now than ever before,” said Herrera. “The goal is to help others build elite teams within their organizations focusing on developing diverse cultures centering themselves around safety, security, and health awareness.”
Convention centers across the country are coming out of the COVID pandemic with changed sets of customer expectations for service delivery and environmental hygiene. Public safety departments have broadened their reach to not only include crisis communications, crowd control, and policing strategy, but also guest experience and customer service. Wilson’s Detroit focus and vast experience puts him at the right place (Huntington Place) at the right time in the venue’s history.
“We are thrilled to add this new role into Huntington Place’s Public Safety department,” Totaro said. “With Marlon having an extensive background in law enforcement and knowledge of our community, it makes sense that he is the right fit for our team. We are excited to bring Marlon onboard and know that he will take us to the next level.”
Mary Klida is Senior Marketing & Communications Manager at Huntington Place.