Houston – Harris County Task Force on Special Events Announced Today

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Houston – Harris County Task Force on Special Events Announced Today
HOUSTON –  Mayor Sylvester Turner and Harris County Precinct 2 Commissioner Adrian Garcia today announced the creation of the City of Houston – Harris County Task Force on Special Events.

The full news conference can be viewed here.

The Special Events Task Force was created to review and make recommendations to improve communication, protocols, and permitting requirements in Houston and Harris County to ensure consistent operational standards for future events. Existing policy, procedures and requisites will be reviewed, as well as industry standards and best practices, to enhance operational management and other event disciplines.

‘Our decision to form the Task Force is about looking to the future and not back on any incident. We realize that by working together and bringing together many of the best individuals in event planning and safety, we can and must form stronger alliances,” said Mayor Turner. “We will not directly investigate the deadly Astroworld Festival, and I think we would be dishonest if we say it didn’t precipitate it. Certainly, it did. The task force will be futuristic. The investigation into the Astroworld event continues, so we certainly do not want to impede that investigation.”

“As the county and city continue to grow their events portfolio, it is more important than ever to develop procedures that ensure public safety. In the immediate aftermath of any emergency, clarity is crucial. This task force of industry and government leaders is designed to create new best practices,” said Commissioner Garcia. “I am confident that the team led by our new Deputy County Administrator for Public Safety and Justice, Perrye Turner, along with his co-chair from the city of Houston’s Office of Special Events, Susan Christian, will work expeditiously to develop plans that will make Harris County a leader in hosting world-class events. I also want to thank our other committee members for lending their expertise to these efforts.”

Mayor Turner and Commissioner Garcia have selected ten industry leaders to serve on the Special Events Task Force. Each member of the task force brings individual expertise in various disciplines within the events industry.

The task force is expected to hold monthly meetings.

City of Houston 

  • Susan Christian, Director, Mayor’s Office of Special Events
  • Troy Finner, Chief of Police, Houston Police Department
  • Samuel Pena, Chief, Houston Fire Department
  • Steven Adelman, Vice President, Event Safety Alliance
  • Rob McKinley, Co-Founder, President and Owner, LD Systems

Harris County

  • Perrye Turner, Harris County Deputy County Administrator for Justice & Safety and Task Force Co-Chair
  • Laurie Christensen, Harris County Fire Marshall
  • Rolf Nelson – Harris County Sheriff’s Office Major over Homeland Security
  • Ryan Walsh, Executive Director, Harris County Sports & Convention Corporation
  • Mike DeMarco, Chief Show Operations Officer, Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo
Susan Christian and Perrye Turner will serve as task force co-chairs.

Susan Christian is Director of the Mayor’s Office of Special Events (MOSE). While embracing public and private partnerships, she developed the city’s year-round Civic Celebration Program that includes nationally noted signature events. Today, the program is an ambitious revenue-generating platform that manages nearly 1000 events, representing over 2000 event days, and attended by more than 10 million people. Christian also developed the City’s Special Events Ordinance, Chapter 25, one of the most contemporary ordinances in the nation. She serves as Ex-officio Director of Houston Civic Events, Inc., a 501c3 non-profit, local government cooperation, which supports MOSE programs and services that was established in 2015 by Houston Mayor and City Council.

Steven A. Adelman is a lawyer focusing on safety and security at live events, as well as Vice President of the Event Safety Alliance and Deputy Chair of the Global Crowd Management Alliance.  He is principal author ANSI ES1.9-2020, the authoritative standard for crowd management in the United States.  He has taught Risk Management in Venues at Arizona State University’s law school, and he has served as an event safety expert in some of the largest lawsuits in recent U.S. history.

Troy Finner has served the citizens of Houston for 31-years. He was named Houston Police Chief in April 2021 and has risen through the ranks to lead a police force of about 5,100 officers and 900 civilian employees. Troy Finner was born in the 5th Ward area of Houston and raised in the Hiram Clarke neighborhood. He holds a Bachelors of Science, Criminal Justice from Sam Houston University and a Masters of Criminology from the University of Houston-Clear Lake. He believes in strong community policing and is committed to youth mentoring programs that help to bridge the gaps in trust and communication with the police. Chief Finner leads from the front line during major events, civil unrest, and protests. He embraces the use of technology and data-driven analysis in the reduction of crime. He has a proven record of bringing community unity, leading operational improvements, and enhancing departmental productivity to reduce costs.

Samuel Peña is a 28-year veteran of the fire service and leads the third largest municipal fire department in the country. Peña has general responsibility for the supervision and management of emergency fire and medical response, and enforcing all laws of the state and ordinances of the City of Houston covering fire prevention and the adopted fire code. Peña has served in Unified Command directing Houston fire department assets during Hurricane Harvey, Tropical Storm Imelda, Tropical Storm Beta, Hurricane Nicholas, Winter Storm Uri, Super Bowl 51, World Series 2017, 2019, 2021, and the Watson Grinding explosion in 2020. Chief Peña holds a Bachelor’s degree in criminal justice and a Master’s in Business Administration from the University of Texas at El Paso, and served four years as a command and control specialist in the U.S. Air Force. His is a member of the International Association of Fire Chiefs; Metropolitan Fire Chiefs Association, National Fire Protection Association (NFPA); National Association of Search and Rescue.

Rob McKinley is the Co-Founder, President, and General Manager of LD Systems in Houston, Texas.  LD Systems is a national Sound-Lighting-Video Production Services company based in Houston, Texas with satellite operations in San Antonio and Austin.  While earning an Electrical Engineering Bachelor of Science degree at Rice University, McKinley co-founded the company in 1975 and has established LD Systems as one of the premier providers of technical production services to the event industry.  Noteworthy large scale events with LD Systems services are The Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo, San Antonio Rodeo, Austin Rodeo, ACL Festival in Austin, Lollapalooza Festival in Chicago, Bonnaroo Festival in Tennessee, The NFL Draft, July 4th Freedom Over Texas in Houston,  and The Power Of Houston-citywide civic celebration.  McKinley and team have been involved with thousands of events over their 46 year history in the presentation and entertainment industry.

Major Rolf Nelson serves as the Homeland Security Bureau Major for the Harris County Sheriff’s Office. Maj. Nelson began his law enforcement career in 1984 as a U.S. Army military police officer. He served in the U.S. Army for three years, rising to the rank of sergeant. After serving his country, Maj. Nelson joined the Sheriff’s Office in 1990 and has since held a variety of roles over his more than three decades of public service, including field training patrol deputy, firearms instructor, training academy instructor, accident reconstructionist, and homicide sergeant. His primary role in the Homeland Security Bureau is to support front-line deputies with resolving various crises without incident, ranging from a warrant execution and a barricaded suspect to hostage negotiation and counterterrorism operations.Ryan Walsh started with the Harris County Sports & Convention Corporation in February of 2017 as Director of Projects and Capital Improvement and was appointed Executive Director by the Board of Directors in May of 2018. HCSCC was created by Harris County Commissioners Court to oversee, maintain, manage and develop county-owned NRG Park that includes NRG Stadium, NRG Center, NRG Arena, and the NRG Astrodome. As Executive Director, he is responsible for the oversight and operation of NRG Park in both day-to-day operations and long-term development. Notable projects include coordinating NRG Park operations for the Federal Disaster Shelter and Recovery efforts after Hurricane Harvey in 2017. In his time working for the county, Ryan worked on various policy issues, including Emergency Management, County Boards and Commissions, and Harris County Public Health.

Mike DeMarco is the Chief Show Operations Officer for the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo. His responsibilities are the facility’s day-to-day operations, including safety and medical, security to include law enforcement planning and oversite, cleaning, facility grounds staffing, traffic control, transportation, busing operations, and carnival operations. Mike oversees 30 plus committees with over 8000 volunteers. He has a full-time staff of 30 plus employees and at showtime 250 plus contractors. Year after year, the rodeo continues as the most highly attended event in both the city of Houston and Harris County.

Chief Laurie Christensen is the Fire Marshal of Harris County, Texas, the third-most populous county in the United States. Fire Marshal Christensen is a graduate of the University of Houston Downtown with a Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice and a Master of Science in Criminal Justice Leadership and Management from Sam Houston State University. She is an accredited Fire Marshal, a Certified Fire Protection Specialist, a Master Peace Officer, and a Master Firefighter. Christensen is a retired member of the Pasadena Fire Department, the former Fire Marshal of La Porte, TX, and has over 30 years of experience in emergency response. The Harris County Fire Marshal’s Office is an independent law enforcement agency. The duties encompass Head of Department for the Texas Commission on Law Enforcement (TCOLE) and Head of Department for Texas Fire Commission (TCFP) administrator for the department and county government. The mission of the Harris County Fire Marshal’s Office is to safeguard the lives and property of the residents in Harris County through effective fire prevention, fire investigation, education, hazmat operations, emergency response, and emergency management.

Perrye K. Turner, Sr. brings more than 30 years of experience in law enforcement and security operations in the public, private, and education sectors. He recently retired from the Houston Field Office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) as Special Agent in Charge. In this role he directed daily operations including all national security, criminal investigative programs, operational, administrative, financial, and security functions. Turner’s exceptional experience and dedication to public safety have prepared him to drive Harris County’s ongoing efforts to enhance public safety and reform the criminal justice system in support of the 4.7 million residents of Harris County. Highlights from his 30-year tenure with the FBI include leading FBI Field Office management of security operations for Super Bowl LI, the MLB World Series, and Hurricane Harvey recovery and response, and serving as the on-scene commander for the Santa Fe High School and Naval Air Station (Corpus Christi) active shooter investigations. In 2015, Turner received the Presidential Rank Award, one of the most prestigious honors in the federal career civil service, which is only given to the top one percent of Senior Executives by the President of the United States.