Signature Boston Blog
MCCA to Hold Full Scale Active Shooter Exercise at BCEC

Operation Vanguard presents opportunity to identify, coordinate and test public safety protocols for large venues

The Massachusetts Convention Center Authority (MCCA) will host an Active Shooter Exercise, Operation Vanguard, at the Boston Convention & Exhibition Center (BCEC) on Friday, March 22. The MCCA and its partner Public Safety agencies including the Boston Police Department, Boston Fire Department, Boston Emergency Medical Services, Massport, Massachusetts State Police, Mass DOT, MBTA, FBI, and United States Secret Service have worked collaboratively over the past two years to design and develop a comprehensive Active Shooter Joint Response Plan (ASJRP) for the BCEC ― the largest building in New England.

The establishment of the ASJRP is the first of its kind in the City of Boston. The live exercise will bring together the full complement of expertise, resources and personnel of the respective agencies to test critical elements of the plan and validate the unique protocols developed to implement a full-scale response to an emergency situation at the BCEC.

“The Boston Convention & Exhibition Center presents a unique challenge for safety and security due to its size, location and purpose which is to open its doors to welcome hundreds of thousands of visitors to Boston from around the world to enjoy their event and experience everything that makes Boston a premier global destination,” said Rob Noonan, MCCA Chief Information and Security Officer. “The work thus far has already delivered tremendous benefits for all of the participants and Operation Vanguard provides an opportunity to test our assumptions in an environment specifically designed to deliver actionable results.” Head over to for an exclusive interview with Rob Noonan, where he reveals more details about Operation Vanguard.

Operation Vanguard marks the first comprehensive full scale exercise to take place at a “Large Venue” since Governor Baker signed into Executive Order a security task force to examine the safety and security of large venues including stadiums, concert halls, and convention centers in Massachusetts. Lessons learned from this exercise will be shared with all of the large venues throughout the Commonwealth.

“Beyond the obvious benefits of training in a live action environment, the long term impact of working with and among all of our public safety partners are the professional contacts and personal relationships that are so vital when emergency situations arise,” said David Gibbons, Executive Director of the MCCA. “The plans and protocols developed today will be the foundation for a coordinated response to a potential public safety emergency on our property, as well as other large venues in Massachusetts.”

As part of our ongoing commitment to safety and security, we recently released a Safety & Security whitepaper where we share lessons from two major events that took place in Boston: the 2013 Boston Marathon Bombing and the 2015 Pokémon World Championship. The paper explores tactics and techniques employed by our security team and partners at the Massachusetts Large Venue Security Task Force, the Boston Police, the FBI, and the Department of Homeland Security. These best practices give event planners peace of mind when choosing Boston as a destination, and provide attendees a safe and satisfying experience.

The Plan Your Event section of our website includes information on all of the services available at our facilities. Whether you are in the process of evaluating Boston or planning your upcoming Boston event, our Signature Boston Team can walk you through all of your building services options, including public safety. Our Public Safety Team is here to help with risk assessment, emergency plan development, venue security, and more.