By Steve Schuster
In the words of musical artist Taylor Swift, “in your wildest dreams, ah-ah,” perhaps best describes the behind-the-scenes security in place at one of the World’s Largest Music Festivals this year.
Summerfest 2023 opened gates to the public on Thursday, June 22, 2023.
Suffice it to say, in the 55 years since the music festival began in 1968, security protocols have evolved quite a bit from having local law enforcement patrol on foot to now having that, plus:
(The list goes on but for security purposes were omitted from this article)
During an exclusive with the Wisconsin Law Journal Friday, an official with the Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD) Civil Support Team (CST) said they were asked by local and/or state authorities to deploy to Summerfest and also have a presence at Lambeau Field, as well as several other high attendance destinations in the Badger State, (for security purposes the other venues have been omitted from this article).
Officials said Friday that WMD CST’s mission is to support local authorities in the event of a chemical, biological, radiological, or nuclear incident.
Although under state control pursuant to Wisconsin Statutes, WMD CST receives federal funds under Presidential Decision Directive 39 (PDD-39), which funds counterterrorism efforts. The directive was signed on June 21, 1995 by then President William Jefferson Clinton.
According to Presidential Decision Directive NSC 62 obtained by the Wisconsin Law Journal, then President Clinton said, “As this cluster of threats matures in the coming century, I am determined that we will be prepared to deter them.”
The National Guard Office of Public Affairs reported that in FY15, there were 1,251 deployments for immediate response and stand-by support missions throughout the nation.
As previously reported, the Wisconsin Law Journal met with FBI officials early in June. During a tour of the FBI Milwaukee Division’s office, officials said that counterterrorism remains a top priority in Wisconsin and throughout the nation. In that light, command centers were staged proceeding and will be remain in place throughout the duration of Summerfest, to keep Wisconsinites safe.
Also as previously reported, in May of 2023, the Wisconsin Law Journal visited one of the Wisconsin Department of Justice’s Fusion centers.
The Wisconsin Statewide Intelligence Center (WSIC), located in the Madison area, is operated by the Wisconsin Department of Justice-Division of Criminal Investigation (DCI), and is one of two fusion centers in Wisconsin. WSIC serves as the primary focal point for threat information sharing among federal, state, local, and tribal law enforcement, emergency management, fire service, public health, corrections, military, and private sector partners for the majority of Wisconsin.
To learn more about WMD CST, please click here.
To learn more about Summerfest’s security click here.