NFL Draft security includes Las Vegas firm

Jonathan Alvarez, CEO and co-founder of Protective Force International, poses for a portrait at ...

Four years ago, a Las Vegas-based private security firm started with “a few hundred dollars and a laptop.”

This week, Protective Force International is sending most of its 260 officers along the tourist corridor for the upcoming NFL Draft, which co-founder and CEO Jonathan Alvarez described as a precursor for a Formula One race coming to the Strip next year, and the 2024 Super Bowl at Allegiant Stadium.

“All hands are on deck for this,” Alvarez said.

The officers will supplement the large number of federal agents and local law enforcement officers that were tapped to work the three-day event that kicks off Thursday, Alvarez said. He likened the expected crowds to the ones seen during New Year’s Eve festivities in Las Vegas, but multiplied.

“You have 400,000 people coming in at one time for one night,” the 33-year-old said. “When it’s done, it’s done. Think of that for three days straight.”

Las Vegas is expecting record turnout to the draft, with one estimate putting attendance at up to 1 million visitors.

In the Las Vegas Valley, security officers outnumber police officers at about 10-to-1, said Alvarez, noting that his company will “force multiply (law enforcement’s) mission, and make sure every single tourist has a great time.”

Clark County officials and the Metropolitan Police Department, which patrols the Strip and downtown Las Vegas, have not shared details on what the police force will look like.

But Las Vegas police regularly tout their coordination with casino security and other private security.

Draft preparations have not been any different, Alvarez said. Conversations started last year, and preparations began ramping up in February, he said, adding that there are no known specific threats.

“A lot of our operations are already activated,” he said.

The firm’s officers will be there to help deter any possible trouble, he said. Alvarez and his K-9, “Pele,” also will be working.

“We’re not law enforcement but officers are expected to respond, and act, and deal with situations like a professional officer,” Alvarez said.

Officers with Protective Force International, which has contracts with more than 300 local entities, actively patrol and respond like police officers, some in marked cruisers, he said.

Roughly 60 percent of the firm’s officers are armed, and all are certified in baton and pepper spray use, Alvarez said.

The firm has regular academies, and background checks are conducted on prospective security officers. They all must meet requirements to carry a gun: no felony and domestic violence convictions, or drug use, he said.

He said his firm is lobbying lawmakers to enact more stringent training for private security officers.

“I think that the community is starting to realize how important security and security officers are to the infrastructure of Southern Nevada,” said Alvarez, who has past experience as an Army combat engineer and a military police officer. “Without the safety, we don’t have any tourists, and without any tourists, we have no economy.”

He said he is eager for Las Vegas to keep hosting events similar to the draft.

“I can’t wait for all of the other giant events that are gonna be coming to Vegas,” Alvarez said.

Contact Ricardo Torres-Cortez at rtorres@reviewjournal.com. Follow him on Twitter @rickytwrites.