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Kennywood touts new security measures, dispels rumors as it prepares to open Friday

  • Oliver Morrison/WESA
Kennywood officials answered questions and demonstrated its security system to the media on Wednesday.

 Oliver Morrison / 90.5 WESA

Kennywood officials answered questions and demonstrated its security system to the media on Wednesday.

Kennywood officials said they learned some lessons from Saturday’s shooting that injured three people and are implementing enhanced security measures as a result.

Those measures include doubling the number of police officers, making the chaperone policy more stringent for kids under 18 and limiting the size of bags to a small clutch purse.

The park plans to open on Friday.

Although Kennywood officials declined to speak about the investigation into Saturday’s shooting, some of the new security measures have been implemented to address the possibility that someone might have smuggled a gun into the park through one of the perimeter fences. The park said that, as of last week, it didn’t have video cameras that covered the entire perimeter of the park but that it is in the process of installing more cameras. It also cut down some trees on the perimeter and added floodlights, so that officers stationed on the perimeter can see.

In the past, Mark Pauls, the general manager of Kennywood said that officers would circle the perimeter to try to prevent people from jumping over the fence to avoid paying the entrance fee. Now, he said, there will be additional officers sitting along the fence-line to try to catch any potential weapons from entering the park as well.

We have had people jump the fence, and that’s why we did patrols. And it’s more about, ‘Hey, you’re not paying to get in kind of thing,’” he said. “And obviously it has a whole different connotation now.”

Pauls said that another theory about how the gun entered the park after Saturday’s shooting is incorrect. After the shooting, some parkgoers told the media that the park had not been using its metal detectors or that they were not working correctly.

But in fact, the metal detectors had not been in service since the start of the 2022 season and had been replaced by a weapons detection system that does not require people to remove their phones, keys and other personal devices. A similar system, installed and operated by Evolv, is used in a number of large facilities in the Pittsburgh area and across the country, including Acrisure Stadium. Pauls said Kennywood removed the old metal detectors this week to prevent confusion.

As we move forward, we will evaluate our security procedures and make changes to them,” he said. “And we will learn so much from this situation so that we were better if we had a similar type of situation in the future,” he said.

Rick Abraham, the vice president for technical sales and solutions at Evolv, declined to say how accurate its system is at detecting weapons out of a concern for security. But Abraham said that Evolv’s system has been certified to meet the high standards required for federal facilities operated by the Department of Homeland Security.

Abraham demonstrated that the system at Kennywood worked on Wednesday by walking through it with a fake gun. A red light goes off, and a picture of the person who triggered the system is sent to gate attendants, who can then take aside those patrons to investigate further.

Oliver Morrison / WESA

Rick Abraham, the vice president for technical sales and solutions at Evolv, demonstrated how its weapons detection system at the front of Kennywood works on Wednesday.

Pauls said the Evolv system had successfully caught other weapons this year, including off-duty officers who had forgotten to put their weapons back into their cars.

Pauls declined to respond to questions about why there were reports of park workers directing some parkgoers Friday away from the exits. Pauls said letting patrons out through fences can be dangerous because of the traffic nearby but that “once it was safe” on Saturday park security opened additional gates for people to leave.

Additional safety measures

Pauls said Kennywood would double the number of officers present at the park before the shooting but declined to give the total number because he said it could compromise security.

All guests under the age of 18 will now have to be chaperoned by an adult at least 21 years of age as soon as the park opens. Previously, the policy didn’t kick in until 4 p.m. The park continues to require adults who bring in more than four kids register and sign that they are responsible. Pauls said this has been an effective deterrent.

“And when you get up there and I say, ‘I need you to sign.’ They’re like, ‘No, I’m not going to sign. I don’t want to do this,’” he said.

Oliver Morrison / WESA

Mark Pauls, the general manager of Kennywood, says the park is taking additional security precautions, especially along its perimeter, after a shooting Saturday left three people injured.

The new bag policy limits all bags, except for those the size of a small clutch purse: 8 inches by 5 inches by 1 inch.

The park will now also prohibit masks that obscure the face after 6 p.m.

Pauls said there continues to be a no-tolerance policy for fighting and that officers who roam the park break up large groups of kids by shining flashlights on them.


Correction: This story has been updated to correct information about the existence of the park’s active shooter plan.



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