Most people in nightclub settings view “ejections” as violent acts: a group of bouncers literally tossing someone into the alley or a Patron being dragged, kicking and screaming, out the front door. In actuality, 95% of all ejections are quite peaceful, with the “ejectee” willingly exiting the establishment under their own power. Whether or not the Patron departs on their own or with the assistance of the Security Staff is dependent on a variety of factors. And while your establishment wants to avoid “physical” ejections if at all possible, they are sometimes unavoidable.
The first thing everyone should know is that an “Ejection” refers to any situation in which a Patron leaves the club upon a request by Security Staff. For those working in the state of California it is helpful to refer to Section 602.1A of the CA Penal Code: You—as Security Staff—are considered an agent of a business, and when a person is instructed to leave the premises and refuses, that person is guilty of a misdemeanor. IF the person refuses to leave, an agent of a business can use reasonable and necessary force to remove them if absolutely necessary. Remember, “reasonable and necessary” equals the amount of force needed to overcome resistance according to a person’s physical condition, build and perceived threat.
Ejecting Non-Violent Patrons – Most Non-Violent Patron ejections are due to over-intoxication or unsuitable behavior. And, in most of these cases, it is merely a matter of asking the Patron in question to leave. Surprisingly enough, these Patrons will often leave on their own, no questions asked. However, there are occasions in which you must either take away the Patron’s reason for staying or give them a reason to leave. How do you give them a reason to leave?
- Most over-intoxicated Patrons will have been cut-off from being served. Remember, that if they have not, you have the power to request a cut-off from the Bartender. As soon as a Patron is considered too intoxicated to be served, it is an indication that they are too intoxicated to remain on the premises (this is for their safety as well as to prevent you as an establishment from being charged with “over-serving”). Cutting off a Patron’s supply of alcohol is usually enough of a deterrent to cause the Patron to leave of their own accord.
- Should the Patron not wish to leave on their own, it is up to Security to inform them that they must leave. This can be accomplished by merely asking them to leave or letting them know that they are too intoxicated to remain on the premises. One way to get an intoxicated patron out the door is to ask for their ID, and have them follow you outside. Once outside, they are then informed that they cannot return to the club that evening due to over-intoxication. Yes, it’s tricky, and that’s the whole point. You have avoided conflict within the bar and moved them to a location where you can have a conversation without yelling and “hand off” the Patron to your outside Security.
- ALWAYS try and remain as polite as possible to over-intoxicated Patrons. It is often embarrassing or humiliating for them to be asked to leave, so reassurance, patience, and a calm demeanor on your part will help ease them out the door. This is not easy, especially if an individual is argumentative, combative, or so drunk that they can’t form a sentence. Short sentences, body language, and hand gestures can often help to give the intoxicated Patron an idea of what is going on.
Ejecting Violent Patrons – Some Patrons may react negatively to being asked to leave and this can take the form of physical violence or resistance. If this is the case, try to bring the Patron to the nearest exit. You DO NOT want to move a struggling individual through a crowded bar. There are too many things that can go wrong and you want your ejections to be a quick, painless, and non-attention grabbing as possible.
Avoid restraint holds as much as possible. Individuals under the influence of intoxicants often have high pain thresholds, and wristlock, armbars, and other submissions can lead to broken limbs or other injury. Tight “bear hugs” are often a good way of gaining control of a violent Patron. Another good way to move an individual is to lift them from behind, by their belt or pants. This creates an uncomfortable “wedgie” (think back to Junior High School), brings them to their toes, and allows you to propel them forward. If using this technique, place your other hand on one of their shoulders to prevent them from turning or falling forward, and walk FAST, in the direction of the nearest exit..
- If possible, alert the Security Staff member working the nearest exit that you are arriving with an ejection, so that they may clear a path.
- Once the Patron is ejected, the Staff members doing the ejecting should immediately re-enter the club. This will keep the Patron from wanting to continue to instigate trouble with the Staff who “kicked him out”.
- Should it be necessary to subdue or restrain a Patron until the arrival of Law Enforcement, do your best to clear an area to keep other Patrons clear of any trouble. (Remember “The Buddy System”?)
In almost any case, calm dialogue with customer service in mind will alleviate any need for physicality. Any Patron who aggressively rejects a reasonable request to behave should be asked to leave. They can be told that if they do not leave they will be considered to be trespassing. You will be forced to call the police and once Law Enforcement arrives, it is your nightclub’s policy to have trespassers arrested. It’s amazing how quickly most people will leave when you state this fact.
As always, communication is the key to any successful ejection. A constant flow of communication between Staff and Patron, Patron and Staff, and Staff and Staff.
Notification – ALWAYS notify the Door Outs, VIP Host, and ID Check of any ejections. This will allow them to hold the door (to prevent bottle-necking), clear the entry/exit (in case you are actually carrying someone out), call Law Enforcement (should you be busy with a trouble Patron), and most important: be aware that you are heading in their direction. Once an ejection is complete, it is imperative that those working the Entry know who was ejected and why. Who, so that they can prevent said individual from re-entering that same night. And Why, so that they can answer any questions by either the Patron or Law Enforcement.
Remember, just because someone is a little loud, a little drunk, or a little annoying doesn’t mean they need to be ejected. Treat each incident on a case by case basis, and talk with your Staff at the conclusion of each ejection. That way you can go over what went wrong or preferably…what went RIGHT.
Until next time…