Don’t be a “Bouncer”

Over the course of the past few years writing this blog, the importance of  being “professional” and all that might entail has been reinforced in a number of our posts. Instead of a long reiteration of said posts, I thought that a few quick sentences could demonstrate how not to be – or be perceived as – a “Bouncer”. Please understand when I say “Bouncer”, I mean what the general public believes “bouncers” to be: large, menacing individuals who would rather fight than talk, and who take pleasure in belittling Patrons because they are on a power trip.

Here is a basic list – which if followed – will at the very least help you keep your job in the industry and possible even help to burnish your reputation. Much of it will seem like common sense…unless you’ve spent any time in a nightclub, in which case many of the sentences are far too common.

DON’T start fights

DON’T lose your cool over small things

DON’T be rude to Patrons

DON’T argue with intoxicated individuals

DON’T sexually harass your Patrons

DON’T drink on the job

DON’T play favorites with your Patrons

DON’T work for tips

DON’T make fun of or belittle your Patrons

DON’T sexually harass your coworkers

DON’T ignore your Patrons when they are trying to ask you a question

DON’T argue with your supervisor(s)

DON’T fight with your co-workers

DON’T automatically assume the intoxicated Patron is wrong

DON’T complain about your post for the night

DON’T get on a power trip

DON’T expect to be let go early

DON’T pick sides in an argument between Patrons

DON’T get upset when Patrons call you, your mother, or different members of your family terrible names

DON’T act like you are better than anyone on the Staff or in the line

DON’T lose your cool over big things

DON’T go into work with a bad attitude

DON’T sell drugs or tell Patrons where they can buy drugs

DON’T expect that intoxicated people will listen to anything you say

And, most important…………

DON’T EVER LOSE YOUR SENSE OF HUMOR!!!

Until next time.

 

The Dangerous Side of the Equation

It pains me whenever I read articles like this one:

http://www.kansas.com/2014/02/03/3265311/police-man-killed-in-club-shooting.html

First, the loss of life over what was probably a fairly minor incident is tragic. Second, it is a reminder of the dangers of working in entertainment venues. And third, it makes me wonder, “Could something different have been done to prevent the violent outcome?”

Working in any venue where alcohol is being served is inherently dangerous. Too often those new to the industry (and more than a few veterans), believe that dealing with intoxicated individuals is “no big deal” or even chuckle at the idea of “tossing out the drunks”. The REALITY of the job is far different. Intoxicated individuals are dangerous. They are a danger to themselves and to others, especially if they are highly intoxicated. The REALITY of intoxication is that it fundamentally changes the way people think. Besides the loss of motor skills and impairment of speech and balance, intoxication can significantly effect judgement, self- control,caution, and reason. These changes can in turn place intoxicated individuals and those around them in extremely dangerous and volatile situations. And you know who else can find themselves in those situations…?

SECURITY

I do not claim to know what happened in the tragic case above. But based on the regular appearance of stories like this in the news, a basic scenario can be formulated:

  1. Patron acts in non-accordance with venue rules
  2. Patron is asked to leave
  3. Patron resists attempts at removing them from premises
  4. Patron is removed from premises (possibly with unnecessary force)
  5. Patron/Security taunt one another after removal
  6. Patron attacks Security (or vice versa)
  7. Patron/Security is injured or killed

At every point of this scenario, there are a myriad of factors that need to be taken into account. And even when taking those factors into account, every action can span a myriad of other reactions! The bottom line for Security Staffers is very simple:

WHENEVER INTERACTING WITH AN INTOXICATED PATRON, YOU MUST ACT WITH PATIENCE AND PAY EXTREMELY CLOSE ATTENTION TO YOURSELF, THE PATRON, AND THE PATRON’S FRIENDS

Small missteps, the wrong tone of voice, and the wrong attitude (generally on the part of the Staffer) can lead to terrible situations. This can be in a situation as basic as asking someone to move so that you can get by with a stack of chairs or as serious as an ejection. A cool head can quite literally save your life. Things like having back-up, knowing how to deal with intoxicated Patrons, and yes even ejecting people, should NEVER be trivialized or approached with a nonchalant attitude. Watch out for yourself, your co-workers, and yes…the Patrons.

Until next time…

Bouncer Fails…

Not every night that you work the Door is going to be slow and lazy. More often than not you will encounter a situation that tests your limits or forces you to act quickly and decisively. And once in a rare while you will be placed in a possibly life-threatening situation. There are a myriad of scenarios that can occur during the course of your shift, but your approach to each should be consistent, patient, and attentive.

This video clip is an excellent example of how lax attention can have a possibly deadly outcome. We could break the video down second by second, but instead we can look at the major mistakes made.

Mistake #1 – Lack of Distance

From the very beginning, the Doorman is too close to the Patron. Any Patron, regardless of state of sobriety or perceived intent, should be kept at least arm’s distance from you at all times. Many Security Staffers close the gap through what might be considered “posturing”. They think that getting up close might intimidate the person they are dealing with. In reality, this may be seen as an aggressive move and can lead to unnecessary escalation. It also puts you as a Staffer in a serious danger zone.

Creating space between you and a Patron allows you room to move, a clearer view of the Patron’s entire body, and an opening to defend yourself. It also lets the Patron know that you are not crowding them or getting into their personal space, which can help to relax them if they are getting worked up.

Mistake #2 – Busy hands

You should never have your hands occupied with anything other than what you need to do your job while talking to a Patron. Cellphones, cigarettes, cups… not acceptable. These are distractions and occupy important space – namely your hand(s). Should you have to defend yourself, grab something, or move someone, it will be very difficult with something in your hands.

The Doorman not only smokes a cigarette during this entire encounter, but he even places one hand in his pocket while smoking! How does he expect to defend himself?

Mistake #3 – Forgetting the Buddy System

While not always possible, it is HIGHLY recommended that you be in the presence of another Staffer during any encounter you have with a Patron. This not only ensures that you have physical backup should things turn ugly, but also provides you with a witness should anything go awry. There is a reason that every field of Security prefers to work with multiple Staffers: SAFETY IN NUMBERS. You should always have +1 person in relation to the situation you are dealing with. 1 Patron = 2 Staffers, 2 Patrons = 3 Staffers, etc.

When the Doorman’s “backup” finally does arrive, he spends his time dealing with another customer and not trying to figure out what is going on in the situation to his immediate left. As a matter of fact, the distraction that he causes in dealing with the 2nd Patron allows the 1st Patron to pull his knife and stab both himself and the Doorman.

Mistake #4 – Lack of Situational Awareness

You need to be aware of your surroundings, who is in them, and what they are doing AT ALL TIMES. That does not mean that you have to engage everyone and everything. But it does mean that you need to be paying attention. ALWAYS. This Doorman not only fails to keep correct distance and has his hands busy, but he TURNS AWAY from the individual he is addressing. In addition, although the main “threat” the Doorman is dealing with is directly in front of him, he turns to deal with other Patrons twice. Never turn away from an individual. Never. Especially one who is intoxicated and attempting to gain access to your establishment.

The fact that the Doorman does not want this particular Patron in the club means that he should focus his attention on the Patron. Period. While minor distractions can and will occur, the Patron in front of you is your point of focus. Ask yourself, “Why won’t he back up when asked?” “Why does this Patron have a hand in his pocket?” Simple questions that should be running through your head at all times.

Keep in mind that being Situationally Aware is NOT the same as being paranoid. If you are paying fearful attention to something that does not exist, you are being paranoid. Acknowledging what is going on around you without attaching some type of negative connotation to it is being aware.

Stay aware and stay safe.

Until next time…

Bouncer Fails…at everything

Every once in a while, I come across some material that is so beyond the pale as to be almost unbelievable. As a matter of fact, when I first watched the video I am referencing, I thought it was a set up, a fake. And part of me still hopes that it is. But the part of me that has to deal with Security Staff on a regular basis – especially poorly trained Security Staffers with the wrong idea of how to do their jobs – knows that this is all too real.

WARNING: This video is graphic and violent.

Usually when I post a video, I try to break it down and analyze it. Not in this case. What happens here is an assault, plain and simple. And if you watch the video carefully, it is a premeditated assault.

Please read our posts Just Walk Away and To Fight or Not To Fight. As one of my mentors says, “Don’t be this guy.”

Until next time…

When Keeping It Real Goes Wrong…

Everyone likes to think that they do a good job, at their job. I’d say that 80% of people do a good job, at their  job. For most, minor mistakes on the job are easily corrected or deleted or can be explained away. In the field of security, minor mistakes can very often take on a life of their own and begin to snowball into bigger problems. And large mistakes can end in disaster, whether liability, injury, or damage to property.

In earlier posts, we discussed Use of Force, Situational Awareness, The Buddy System, and their importance to Security Staffers. We also watched a clip of what I consider to be improper Use of Force. Well, we are now going to return to said clip and break it down even further in a little segment called:

When Keeping It Real Goes Wrong (props to Dave Chappelle for the title).

In this segment, we will examine all the mistakes made by Security. You probably want to open the clip in another window for easier viewing.

The Premise: Drunk Patron on the sidewalk, harassing Security.

The Question: What is one to do?

The Clip:

Before we even get into the breakdown, let’s discuss Security wearing any type of dangly party necklace. Don’t do it. Way too easy for someone to grab and use against you. One might snap, but 3-5 necklaces will choke you out.

Minute 2:56 – 3:05

1) Bouncer #1(B1) leaves his post to confront the Patron (P). Why? Let him rant and rave. He’ll (probably) eventually wander off.

2) B1 turns to look at B2 just before he lunges in for the choke. HUGE MISTAKE. Though it may not seem like very long (.5 seconds?) it is plenty of time for P to get in a cheap shot. Plenty of time.

I won’t even go into the applied choke as it is just plain stupid.

Minutes 3:15 – 3:30

3) Why is B2 holding a cellphone? He should be either: helping subdue P (again, this is dependent on what started the altercation. In this case, B1 started it), looking for trouble/P’s friends, or using the phone to call the Police. Not trying to subdue someone while holding a sweet Blackberry. (Failure of Buddy System)

Minutes 3:31 – 3:50

4) B2 WALKS AWAY (?!?!?!?!) – Now, I understand that the bar is busy and you have to watch the door. But you have your co-worker on the ground in an altercation with a Patron, and you are just hanging out in the doorway. Regardless of how “in control” the situation might look, it is anything but. A crowd is building, your fellow staffer is on the ground, and you’re chilling in the doorway. Stupid. (Failure of Situational Awareness)

Minute 4:30

5) B2 finally realizes that people are a bit upset and starts to keep an eye on Patrons exiting the bar…

Minute 4:45

6) …but fails to intervene when an Angry Patron gets directly in the face of B1. As a matter of fact, it takes him another 15 seconds to get involved, telling Angry Patron to relax…before walking away AGAIN. (Failure of Buddy System)

Minutes 5:05 – 5:35

7) Now we have an escalating situation: Angry Patrons getting into arguments over an altercation they are not directly involved in. B2 now has the task of watching the door and calming a building confrontation…oh yeah, and B1 is still on the ground.

Minute 5:36

8 ) B2 gets waaaaaay too up close and personal with Angry Patron. Not only is his body language aggressive as he approaches, but he leaves himself no room to defend himself. (Failure of Situational Awareness)

Minute 6:01

9) Total Loss of Situational Control. B2 gets pushed by Angry Patron, B1 is still on the ground, the crowd is growing, no one is happy. (Failure of Situational Awareness)

Minute 6:35 – 6:45

10) B2 is  now directly engaged with Angry Patron, leaving Good Samaritan Fella to help B1 with the now choked out P1. Starting to get a bit hectic, eh? (Failure of Buddy System)

Minute 6:50

11) B2 walks away and turns his back to Angry Patron, finally coming over to check on B1. (Failure of Situational Awareness)

Minute 7:30 – End

12) At some point in here Bouncer 3 appears. 5 MINUTES AFTER THE INITIATION OF THE ALTERCATION. 5 minutes might as well be a year. (Failure of Buddy System)

I understand that altercations are dynamic situations, adrenaline causes tunnel vision, and general confusion can be, well, generally confusing. But a thoughtful approach to any situation is always beneficial. By taking your time to assess (a few seconds is PLENTY) you can save yourself from escalation, injury, and liability.

I was involved in a similar altercation a few years a back with a fellow doorman I’ll call “Chief” (especially because he hates it). Me and another bouncer had to take an aggressive Patron to the ground. “Chief” did the following:

1) Called the police

2) Gave us space to deal with the Patron by creating distance between ourselves and the crowd

3) Calmed the agitated friends of the Patron

He did it all in a cool, collected manner. This usually attained by years of experience and tons of practice, but that does not mean that you can’t start learning NOW. Pay attention to altercations and you and your staff’s reactions to them, have them watch video like this and break them down, and discuss all incidents at the end of the night so that you can all gain a better understanding of how to better do your job and make sure that when you Keep It Real, it Doesn’t Go Wrong.

Feel free to chime in with any other pointers or suggestions, the crew in this video obviously needs them.

’til next time….

Self Defense and Use of Force

Anytime I get involved in a conversation regarding nightclub security consulting, one question always comes up:

“So…you teach bouncers how to beat people up?” Then the person laughs and says, “Just kidding.”…and proceeds to ask a ton of questions about how to beat people up. Or how many fights I’ve been in. Or what is the worst fight I’ve ever seen.

The boring (and unfortunate) facts point in the other direction. It is our job as security bloggers and nightclub consulting folks to teach bouncers how to NOT beat anyone up. Why? Uhm, well for one, it’s illegal to beat people up. And for two, it is the bouncer’s job to prevent people from getting beat up, prevent people from beating on other people, and avoid getting beat up by people themselves.

Most security staffers are curious as to what they are allowed to do verbally or physically when involved in a hostile situation. The answer is both simple and complex. Here is the simple part: SELF DEFENSE. And here is the complex part: SELF DEFENSE. How can something be both simple and complex? Well, the words themselves are pretty straight forward, but it is the interpretation and application of the words that is complex.

So let’s begin with a definition:

IF A PERSON HAS A REASONABLE BELIEF THAT HE IS IN IMMINENT DANGER OF UNLAWFUL BODILY HARM, HE MAY USE THAT AMOUNT OF FORCE WHICH IS REASONABLY NECESSARY TO PREVENT SUCH HARM, UNLESS HE IS THE AGGRESSOR.

Pretty. Straight. Forward. You can protect yourself against unlawful bodily harm with a reasonable amount of force. That’s it.

In our first post, we discussed improper Use of Force. The improper Use of Force related to a bouncer applying a choke and throwing a patron. Let’s use the Use of Force model and apply it to Self Defense in a real world scenario:

You’re standing on the Dance Floor when a Patron bumps into you. Being the professional that you are, you apologize with a smile. The Patron says something rude about your mother’s bathing habits and shoves your shoulder.

What is the correct response?

A) You tell the Patron that shoving isn’t necessary and ask if everything is alright.

B) You call the Patron an asshat, shove them back, and walk away.

C) You grab the Patron by the arm, inform them that their prolonged attendance in your club is no longer desired, and escort them to the door.

D) You grab the nearest bottle, break it over their head, place them in a sleeper hold, and drag them out the door unconscious.

If you answered B or D, you need to find a new line of work and polish your conflict resolution skills. If you answered A or C you are at least on the right path. While B is an equal Use of Force, you have now continued to escalate the situation and are ignoring a potential threat by walking away. D is not only a ridiculous Use of Force, but will probably lead to Assault charges. Why? Because you did not defend yourself within the stated legal parameters. When physical touching has occurred, security may use necessary force to remove the Patron from the establishment, but may NEVER use excessive force. A shove does not dictate a chokehold.

And this is where the complexity of SELF DEFENSE rears its ugly head. If a situation arises in which you are forced to defend yourself physically, it is up to YOU to gauge your response. There may be witnesses or even videotape, but the burden of proof will come down to how YOU REACTED to the perceived threat. And in this day and age, we all know that even the most minor of improprieties can lead to lawsuits.

If a patron pushes you, that does not warrant a punch or choke. If they are coming at you with a broken bottle and screaming, “I’m going to kill you!” protecting yourself to the best of your abilities is the order of the day. IF your reaction would make a bystander react negatively, chances are it’s the wrong reaction. That means that you might need to get used to the idea of taking the occasional shove or even slap to the face.

The best form of Self Defense that you have is YOUR MOUTH. De-escalating a situation through the use of your verbal skills will not only prevent altercations but it will prevent lawsuits. Very rarely will you be sued for telling someone to settle down. However, punching someone in the face to keep them quiet will lead to litigation. Guaranteed. Think of this realistically: You are sober. They are drunk. Your reaction times and decision-making skills are (hopefully) superior to theirs. Use your brain and not your fists.

But hey, how’d you get yourself in this crazy situation in the first place?

Tune in next time for…SITUATIONAL AWARENESS!!!