Violent incidents in Nightclub settings

This video was posted in a forum that I belong to and I thought it would be a great tool for examining violent incidents. I hate to armchair quarterback these situations, especially when all of the information is not readily available – or in this case – visible. But I think that there are basic rules in this situation that have either been broken or at the very least, ignored.

INITIAL IMPRESSIONS

1) Lack of access/traffic flow control – Hard to tell which part of the club this occurs in, but it seems to be either a side room or an entry foyer. Either way there is far too much foot traffic for there NOT to be a Security Staffer posted either in the room itself or in the doorway (at the right). This would alleviate bunching, overcrowding, and facilitate quick access to any trouble that occurs within the space. Control the space and you can control the issues within it or keep them from occurring. Bathrooms and hallways should always have a staffer positioned within or nearby.

2) Lack of definable uniforms – Who is security? Who is not security? Any person on staff should be in a clearly marked shirt (SECURITY) or wearing some type of uniform to designate their standing as a Staffer. Otherwise, you are just another big guy jumping into the melee.

RESPONSE

The Plus 1 Rule – Always have ONE more Staffer involve in any type of disturbance than the number of individuals involved. 1 patron ejection = 2 Security Staff, 2 people fighing = 3 Staffers, etc. There is not much manpower response to a brewing brawl in this situation. By my count, there are 2 security staffers and 6 people in a small room. Not good odds.

The initial response by the bouncer to grab the person with the bottle is technically correct, but not in this situation. Jumping into the fray without backup and without a cursory glance as to what is going on is a recipe for disaster. Once the backup arrives, the two Staffers start to remove the “aggressor” which is again technically the correct thing to do..but they do it while completely ignoring the building fight behind them. This is where things get progressively more questionable. It is hard to tell if they can’t get out the door and why they have stopped. Is there no room to move the man out the left door? Why not eject out the right door? Not enough info to work on here. At the very least, they should be removing themselves from the room until they have the manpower to take on the people fighting.

When it becomes obvious that a weapon is involved, this should (and it looks like it does) become an “All Hands” situation: every available Staffer heads to the incident area, Front Door goes into lockdown, LEOs are contacted, and the area is cleared of bystanders if possible. I work under the philosophy that if you have “lost the floor” i.e. mass brawl, jumping in actually does more damage than good. Let them fight it out while you protect any bystanders that may be in the way until things gets to a manageable point.
POST INCIDENT

Again, it is hard to tell the size and layout of this establishment, but at the very least the Bar and room where the stabbing occurred should be cleared and locked down. First Aid should be rendered immediately to the stabbing victim while other Staffers detain anyone directly involved in the fight (especially the individual with the weapon) and try to find witnesses. Then write up an Incident Report to make sure things are still fresh in your mind. Should this incident carry forward to a trial, that Incident Report will be VERY important.

PREVENTIVE MEASURES

Controlling access to entry/watching the line – No more that 3-5 individuals should be allowed in the door at a time, hopefully spaced out to prevent bunching. What is the demeanor of the people in the line? Intoxicated? Aggressive? There should be a Staffer monitoring the line and the sidewalk. Doorman has ultimate say in who comes in and should not – with very few exceptions – be overridden by Management or Head of Security. He/She is the keeper of your door for a reason. And yes, they have the right to refuse service. Many clubs will not let in groups of 4+ men unless they are interspersed with women.

Weapons checks – Every individual entering should be searched for weapons, either by pat down or wand. Dress code can facilitate this: no untucked shirts or overly baggy clothing that can hide knives, guns, blackjacks, etc. This goes for women as well via bag checks.

Gear – Flashlights, radios, stab vests (depending on establishment), and uniforms should be MANDATORY for EACH member of your Security Staff. If your Staff are missing one or more of these items they are a liability and a potential target.

Communication – Does your team talk throughout the night? If there is an issue, do you communicate it to your entire staff? Is everyone on the same radio channel or do different zones have different channels? Does your team know how to properly use their radios?

Training – Do you have set policies and procedures for incidents or situations that may occur? Does your staff know these policies and procedures? Does your staff know how to handle ejections? Intoxicated or aggressive individuals? Fights? Melees? Do you train your staff in ejection, escort, and self protection techniques?

Your team should be holding end of shift debriefs that cover any incidents and individuals that caused problems. This way, you are all on the same page and know what happened throughout the night, throughout the establishment. Training and communication go a long way to keeping your Staffers from becoming statistics. Stay smart and stay SAFE.

How To Break Up A Bar Fight

While this blog is generally targeted at Security professionals, I occasionally like to include information that I believe will be useful/helpful to the general public as well. This is a post that – should you pay attention to it – will come in very handy.

A couple of months ago, I was approached by a reporter from Men’s Health magazine. She wanted to do a piece on “breaking up a bar fight”. I readily agreed to help her out and we had a nice couple of conversations about bar fights (is that even possible?). A little while later, this little blurb came out in the magazine:

fight

I was not surprised by the length of the article. Having dealt with reporters and journalists before, I know enough to be realistic about the amount of actual information that will be pulled from any interview. That being said, I thought that it would be in everyone’s best interest to discuss bar fights and how to break them up in greater detail than was presented in the article.

But before I begin, know this:

YOU ARE NOT BREAKING UP A BAR FIGHT

Sorry, but that is just the fact of the matter. Bar fights happen very quickly and are usually over within 5-10 seconds. The first person to get hit usually goes down and just like that, it’s over. If the fight goes longer than 5-10 seconds, it is turning into melee and YOU are not stopping that. Period. The key is to get ahead of the curve and keep the fight from happening at all.

RULE #1 – Don’t be in the Bar or Nightclub

Now, this might seem like a strange thing for someone who works in Bars and Nightclubs to say. But the reality is this: if you aren’t in a Bar or Nightclub, you’ll never have to worry about breaking up a fight or getting into a fight. One of my martial arts instructors likes to refer to “The 3 S’s”: Stupid people, in stupid places, doing stupid things. If you avoid any of the 3 S’s, you will more than likely avoid instances of physical violence.

RULE #2 – Don’t get involved

You know what the best defense against a punch is? A good pair of running shoes. Should you be present when a fight breaks out or when one seems to be brewing…leave the area. I’m sure that there are plenty of tough guys who want to get involved and jump in, fists swinging. Not only is this a TERRIBLE idea in terms of liability but it is incredibly dangerous. Bar fights tend to be free-for-alls. You WILL get hit and not necessarily by a fist. Tough guy? Big guy? Excellent fighter? There will ALWAYS be someone tougher, bigger, or more excellent than you perceive yourself to be. And that person might not “look” like you expect them to. CASE IN POINT…GHURKAS

RULE #3 – Get help IMMEDIATELY

See trouble commencing? Yell for help or run and get it. Grab a cocktail waitress, bar back, bartender, or best case scenario: actual security or law enforcement. It is their bar and their problem, NOT yours. Sometimes even yelling that “Security!” of “The Cops are on their way!” can buy enough time for cooler heads to prevail or give you and your group a chance to LEAVE THE AREA.

“But what if my friend is the one in the fight?”, you say.

Easy, sarcastic answer: Your friend is an idiot. Anyone willing to risk physical injury due to a perceived slight, spilled drink, or someone “talking to my girl” is an idiot. But more realistically…

RULE #4 – Grab your friend…and leave

If your friend is about to get in the mix or is in the initial stages of The Monkey Dance*, grab him or her by the collar, belt, or arm, and drag them away. They might get angry. Too bad. They might call you names. Who cares? They might yell, “Let me at him!” Ignore them. Get them and yourself as far away as possible from the source of contentious behavior. “But our drinks, girlfriends, table are over there!”, you say. You can come back and get all of the above once you have extricated your friend from the situation AND informed Security.

RULE #5 – Don’t get between the fighters

Let’s say your friend is too deep in the Monkey Dance to get out or has already started swinging. First off, DO NOT – under any circumstances – insert yourself between your friend and the aggressor(s). You will become an additional target for someone’s anger and you may even escalate the situation. By jumping in you just got involved, so the aggressor’s friends get involved, and it builds exponentially from there. You might get hit as someone tries to hit your friend. I’ve seen it happen more times than I can count. Should you make the poor decision to involve yourself, grab your friend from behind or from the side and drag them away. It doesn’t have to be some amazing ninja hold, just grab them and move.

RULE #6 – Let Security handle it

If the fight is in already full swing, YOU SHOULD NOT GET INVOLVED. Please know that when Security arrives, they are going to do whatever it takes to separate the “fighters” …and by jumping in to the mix – even if it is to “break it up” – you just became one of the fighters. There are not a lot of investigative enquiries being made by Security when the fists start swinging.

Security Staffer are trained (hopefully) to get the situation under control. You are not. Even if you are a bouncer hanging out in another bar…don’t get involved. Step back, leave the area, and let Security break it up. THEN you can talk to them about what happened. They may need witnesses if someone was injured.

RULE #7 – Check your ego

The biggest cause of the bar fight is the male EGO. No one wants to be a “p*ssy” or be “disrespected”. Get over it. You can be called names all night and go home in one piece, not having lost your teeth or you can “defend your honor” and end up at the bottom of a pile of brawling bodies. Listen, fights end one of three ways: in the hospital, in the morgue, or in jail. None of which is particularly appealing. The person instigating the fight will be dealt with by Security at some point in the evening, guaranteed.

So instead of getting feisty and “in the mix”, grab your girl, your boy, your friend, and your crew, and either ask for help from Security or pick another bar. You’ll wake up with a hangover – not an arrest. Your ego might be a little bruised but at least you’ll retain possession of your teeth.

Until next time…

* Anyone interested in violence in society, security, or how/why violent behavior occurs is greatly encouraged to read this book:

Meditations on Violence: A Comparison of Martial Arts Training & Real World Violence

Pre-Attack Indicators

While we do post about the ridiculous on occassion, for the most part we try to keep things (semi) serious on this blog. Humor is necessary, but the reality is that working Security in any type of setting is dangerous. Add alcohol to the mix (no pun intended) and the potential for violence and danger increases. I’d like to touch on a subject that is often overlooked by many when discussing violence: the physical signs that an individual will exhibit prior to attacking.

If you look back through the various posts I have written Use of Force, the focus tends to be on what you as individual or your Staff should be doing to mitigate violent reactions. But how do you know whether or not an individual is about to be violent? Is there a way to tell? As a matter of fact, yes. But first you need to understand the “Why” of how a body under stress – in this case, adrenaline – works.

FIGHT OR FLIGHT

We’ve all heard the saying “fight or flight” and it is exactly what it sounds like. When your body is dumping adrenaline into your system, whether you are amped and want to attack (fight) or scared and want to run (flight), there are physiological changes that your body will experience:

  • Time Distortion — Time slows or speeds up.
  • Depth perception/Visual Distortion — Things appear closer or larger than they are.
  • Tunnel Vision — Peripheral vision will crop away and all you see is the perceived threat.
  • Auditory Exclusion — Partial or total loss of hearing.
  • Pain Tolerance — While damage may still be done, you won’t necessarily feel it. Many people die of their injuries AFTER a violent confrontation due to the fact that they don’t feel anything during the confrontation.
  • Speed and Strength Increase — Known as the “mother lifting the car off the baby” symptom. Yes, it is possible. But no one ever discusses the fact that there are usually physical injuries that accompany these acts. Remember pain tolerance?
  • Fine Motor Movement Decay — This is also known as loss of fine motor skills. You probably won’t be able to tie your shoes, much less dial a cell phone.
  • Changes in blood flow/heartbeat – This is due to the body wanting to divert blood where it is most needed to oxygenate your body.
  • Changes in respiratory rate — From fast, sharp inhales to hyperventilation, your body will do it.
  • Unconscious Muscle Tension — Clenching or relaxation of  muscles.
  • Mono-emotion/Emotional Detachment — Anger, Fear, Happiness, Sadness. One emotion will block out the others. It is possible that there will be NO emotion attached to what you are doing.
  • Bladder/Bowel Release — This is your body removing what it feels is “excess” in order for you to fight or run.

These effects will be seen in EVERYONE in some way, regardless of how experienced they are with working in an adrenal state. So how can we spot someone in an adrenal state, with violent intentions? Actually, it is pretty easy if you know what to look for in the moment.

The first thing to consider is what circumstances lead to this individual being angry or agitated? Did you just break up a fight? Has a couple been arguing loudly? Was a Patron just ejected from the bar? Is it the way you have been interacting with them? Any of these could lead to an angry action or reaction towards you.

PRE-ATTACK INDICATORS

Muscle Contraction: Remember that unconscious muscle tension? Well, this is where you will see it. Clenching of the jaw, baring of the teeth, clenching and unclenching of the fists, tensing of the neck muscles, puffing of the chest, even tightening or shrugging of the shoulders. All of these are possible indicators that the body is preparing for an assault.

Blinking eyes: Most people blink an average of about 20 times per minute, or every 3 seconds. However, under the effects of adrenaline this can leap to double or triple that rate (40 to 60 times per minute). Have you ever heard of the “thousand yard stare?” This can happen if the body takes the opposite adrenal approach and slows its blinking rate to 2-4 blinks per minute. It’s as if the individual is looking “through” you.

Blading: There are different names for this body movement: “the fighting stance,” “boxer’s stance”, “squaring up”, but they all indicate that an attack is imminent.  The stance is demonstrated by a shift in weight, with the strong side (or leg) usually place behind the aggressor. If you see this, prepare yourself for physical interaction.

Targeting:  Some people know this as “sizing up an opponent”. While the individual may indeed be checking what size you are, they are more than likely trying to decide which part of you to attack first. An individual preparing to attack will “target” a particular part of your body: chin, throat, eyes, etc.  If they are fixating on a part of your body – or on your weapon – be prepared.

Scanning: Scanning means the person in front of you is looking at everything but you. There is usually little to no direct eye contact. Why? Well, they are looking at their environment: scanning it for escape routes, witnesses, his buddies (or backup), or your co-workers. They are preparing to attack you and get out – or figuring out whether or not it is safe to do so.

Flanking: This is movement by multiple individuals in order to attain the best possible position for an attack. While you are distracted by the individual in front of you, his compatriots are coming around your side. Even more reason for you to be aware and to have back up!

One thing to keep in mind is that the majority of these displays are sub-conscious, meaning that the individual exhibiting them may not be aware of that fact that they are doing so. When dealing with an individual in an agitated state, keep your cool, keep you distance, call for back up, and PAY ATTENTION!   Buying yourself just a little time with an agitated individual may just keep you out of the hospital…or worse.

Until next time…

Scenario training

In light of the the recent tragedy in Aurora, CO, I think it is important to revisit the idea of Scenario Training. I will simply redirect you all to this link for more information.

Some food for thought:

1) Does your Security Staff keep all Exits clear AT ALL TIMES?
2) Do all of your Security Staffers have working flashlights/radios?
3) Are your Exit Doors locked to prevent illegal entry?
4) Do you have Emergency Lighting in your locations in case of loss of power?
5) Does your Security Staff know the location of your Fire Extinguishers?
6) Have you ever gone over Evacuations in case of a Fire/Earthquake/Gas Leak?
7) Has your Security Staff discussed procedures for dealing with Armed Patrons?

As our world becomes more dangerous and unpredictable, it is imperative for us as citizens to be vigilant and prepared for any eventuality.

Until next time…

Bouncer Fails

Every month I like to do a little Googling of the word “Bouncer” and see what comes up. The results are usually some type of fight video or altercation between a Bouncer and a Patron. And in about 50% of the cases, the Security Staff are too hands on. If you read my last post, I made a big deal out of “being nice”. When you watch a lot of these videos, you can see that the Staffers are either not being nice or they are allowing the customers to get the better of them.

What I mean is that the Patrons keep pushing the Staffer’s buttons until the Staffer “snaps” and get “hands on”. Basically, the individual running the door runs out of patience or they let their emotions get the better of them. Either way, it’s a huge problem. Ultimately, your job in Security is to protect people, not put them in harm’s way or cause the harm yourself.

In the following video, I see an example of a complete loss of composure by the Doorman, accompanied by some very serious lapses in situational awareness by all of the Security Staffers involved. First, let’s look at the video*:

(Be forewarned, the language is NSFW)

Not pretty is it? I see an intoxicated Patron (yes, he’s annoying, but that’s besides the point) being pushed around for no discernible reason. So let’s break it down a bit:

00:00 – 00:34     Just Another Night?

The Patrons are drunk and there is some kind of dispute trying to be resolved. So far, nothing out of the unusual. BUT…

FAIL #1 – The Staffer in the black jacket has his hands in his pockets. Why? The worst thing you can do in any situation involving a possibly dangerous or suspect individual is talk to them with your hands in your pockets. You’re asking to get hit.

00:35 – 00:51     The Trouble Starts 

The Patron approaches an individual who I assume to be the Manager. The Staffers intervene, which is understandable, but their pushing of the Patron is waaaaaaaay over the line. Not only that, but when the Patron returns, they just stand there, not creating any type of safe zone around themselves, even going so far as to let the Patron bend down and pick something up off the ground.

FAIL #2 – The Patron could have very easily used this as a distraction to grab a weapon (in his off hand) OR  jump right up with a head butt or attack on either Staffer. Bad Situational Awareness. Is the Patron verbally abusive? Yes. But hey, everyone has been cursed at. Suck it up.

00:52 – 01:10     Things Fall Apart 

Is it necessary for both Staffers to push back the Patron? I would argue no. At this point, the Staffers have escalated the situation.

FAIL #3 – The Patrons are now heated and they are coming back for more. Why does the Staffer in the Black Coat place his hands behind his back? And why do they let the Patrons approach them again without some type of verbal warning to back off.

01:11 – 01:25     Disasters, Inc.

What a mess. Red Coat Staffer actually removes his hat and tells the Patron, “I’m going to give it to you.” Wow.

FAIL #4 – An implied threat of violence accompanied by the act of preparing an attack (hat removal). We just drifted from stupid behavior into possible assault territory.

01:26 – 01:45     How Can We Possibly Make This Situation Worse?

Red Coat pushes the Patron (again), and actually starts instigate a fight, to the point of having to be held back by his partner. And the Staffer in the Black Coat keeps his hands occupied (with a hat), turns his back on his buddy (to put down the hat), and puts his hands back in his coat.

01:46 – The End     Epic Failure

Red Coat is obviously trying to get into a fight at this point. Multiple pushes on the Patron, multiple failures in situational awareness and body positioning, and basically breaking every rule in the book in terms of procedure when dealing with intoxicated individuals.It gets bad enough that they need to bring back up from inside.

Videos like this serve to demonstrate how a situation can turn bad very quickly, especially when accompanied by severe lapses in judgement. Remember it is up to you as a Security Staffer to dictate the conversation and guide yourself, your fellow employees, and yes – even intoxicated Patrons – into the zone of safe conflict resolution.

  • Calm your Patrons down – Use phrases like, “Slow down.” or “Let’s talk this out.”
  • Remove yourself from the situation – If a Patron is angry at you, leave the scene and have someone else deal with it. It doesn’t make you a coward, it makes you smart and keeps you out of trouble.
  • Keep your head and hands up – Always. No matter how safe you feel, anything is possible.

Don’t be like these Staffers. Be intelligent about your approach, patient in your attitude, and DON’T FAIL.

Until next time…

*(as always, any and all video is the property of the YouTube poster and I make no claims as to its authenticity or the actual actions depicted)

To Fight or Not To Fight?

Actually, the answer to this particular question is simple: you should never fight. I suppose some clarification is needed. If you as a Security Staffer instigate a fight or start a fight yourself, you’ve failed at your job. There is no reason why you should get a Patron so upset that they take a swing at you and vice-versa.

But this does raise an interesting conundrum: if you are never supposed to get into a fight, do you need really need to know HOW to fight?

There are two answers: Yes and No.

Now that you are thoroughly confused, let’s break things down a bit.

NO, YOU DON’T NEED TO KNOW HOW TO FIGHT

We’ll start with the answer that most Security Staffers will scoff at. “That’s ridiculous!”, they’ll say, “If I can’t fight, what’s the point of working Security?” To begin with, if you are interested in working Nightclub Security to get into fights, you’re not a particularly smart individual. Fighting will not only get you and your workplace sued, but could result in serious injury to Patrons, and yes, you. Don’t believe me? Google “Bouncer arrested”  or “Bounder sued” and enjoy one of the millions of links that pops up.

Unfortunately, most Security Staffers have a fairly high opinion of themselves in regards to fighting. Guess what? You are neither Mohammed Ali nor Bruce Lee. You don’t have the strength of Mike Tyson or speed of Georges St. Pierre. And that is just a fact. Regardless of your “fighting skills” (insert eye-roll here), reality and the law of averages are continuously working against you in a fight. The person you are fighting could have friends, you could slip and fall, or surprise, surprise: you decide to pick a fight with a trained fighter.

I’ll take a moment to relay story. Several years ago, a BJJ brown belt entered a local bar. After a few drinks, he got into a war of words with another patron and they “took it outside”. Well, the brown belt took his adversary to the ground and applied a nice rear naked choke…only to be kicked in the head by his adversary’s three friends. He was then beaten unconscious and ended up in the hospital. So much for fighting skills. This story is not meant to disparage BJJ or even infer that the man fighting wasn’t well-trained. But it does illustrate that there are many other factors at work during a confrontation.

What will cover your behind 95% of the time as a Security Staffer will be your observational abilities, critical thinking, and non-violent conflict resolution skills. If you can’t notice an intoxicated Patron, decide if an individual needs to be asked to leave, or break up a fight in the initial stages, you need to bone up on your skills! First and foremost, spend more time with more senior Security Staffers. See how they relate to Patrons, ask them how they handle altercations, and have them critique you when you are on the job.

I highly recommend the book: ‘Verbal Judo: The GentleArt of Persuasion’ to anyone working Security. Dr. Thompson does a great job of breaking down how to remain calm in a tense situation, defusing anger from others, and give small tricks to “derail” angry individuals. A good read and incredibly helpful.

And finally, assess why you work in the field of Nightclub Security. IF you do it for the fights, I wish you luck, because it is going to run out sooner or later.

If you are a good talker, a good observer, and a good conflict resolver, there is a very good chance that you will  never have to raise a fist in anger or in defense. Any Nightclub Security Staffer worth his salt knows that avoiding conflict is the only way to get home in one piece.

YES, EVERYONE SHOULD KNOW HOW TO FIGHT…

On the other side of the coin is the reality of the Nightclub workplace. Patrons get intoxicated, tempers flare, and fights start. Alcohol’s effect on people is totally unpredictable. The two best friends who were doing shots together 30 minutes ago are suddenly punching each other. A girlfriend has gotten angry at her boyfriend and slapped him in the face. Someone has bumped someone else and fists start flying.  It happens and usually YOU are in the middle of it.

Everyone needs to know how to defend themselves. Period. Whether you are a 10 year school girl or an 80 year old man, you should know some basic defensive moves. In an earlier post we discussed the Best Martial Arts for Bouncers, and the conclusion was: choose what works for you. As my martial arts instructor once told me, “The best defense in a fight is a good pair of running shoes and an exit.”

No matter how good you are at talking, sooner or later you will have to insert yourself into an altercation. Whether breaking up a fight or separating two individuals who are about to throw down, you need to know how to physically intervene in these situations. More often than not, when a fight is broken up the combatants continue to swing and will turn on YOU. And it is a this point that your ability to protect yourself will come into play and could save your life.

Security Staffers do need to know how to defend themselves. Notice I said defend and not fight. Fighting involves two participants generally both agreeing to go toe to toe with one hoping for a victory. There is no reason for you as a Security Staffer to willingly enter (or start) a physical altercation. Even in cases where you need to break up a fight, you should be separating and restraining the combatants, not throwing blows. But you do need to protect yourself from the blows that may come your way. Just remember that the second you start swinging your fists, you become the aggressor and that is a problem.

So as you can see, there is no cut and dry answer to the question of whether or not one should know how to fight. In a perfect world, all conflicts and issues would be resolved with a calm demeanor and a little conversation. But the Nightclub environment with its mix of alcohol, adrenaline, intoxication, and testosterone can produce physical altercations. Know how to observe and talk, but be prepared to defend yourself at all times.

Until next time, stay safe.

“I’ve Fallen And I Can’t Get Up!”…or Nightclub Incidents and How to Record and Report Them

Yep, that’s right, the Paperwork Monster strikes again. Don’t run and hide from it, be a hero and face it down!

SIT DOWN, DON’T FALL DOWN…

For some reason, when people see someone else fall down, they laugh. Some comedians have made entire careers out of prat falls. But in the really world things like falls and accidents can take a real physical and financial toll. In the Nightclub environment, slips, falls, and injuries are almost unavoidable. Drinks get spilled and make the Dance Floor slippery. People get drunk and try to negotiate stairs. Intoxicated individuals try to stand on the bar and fall off. These things happen and when they do, you should be prepared to deal with the repercussions that come after the fact…usually in the form of a lawsuit.

WHAT IS AN INCIDENT?

For Nightclubs and Bars, Incidents can be defined many ways. These are considered Incidents because they are actual witnessed events, usually with some form of evidence:

ANY INJURY TO A PATRON – A glass cut, slipping and falling, or twisting an ankle on the stairs, for example.

ANY PHYSICAL ALTERCATION RESULTING IN INJURY TO PATRON(S) AND/OR STAFF – Basically, any injuries sustained during a fight.

ANY THREAT OF PHYSICAL VIOLENCE MADE TO PATRON(S) AND/OR STAFF – For example, if one Patron turns to another (or a bartender) and says, “I’m going to beat you to a pulp!”

ANY THREAT OF LITIGATION MADE TO PATRON(S) AND/OR STAFF – If a Patron says, “I’m going to sue you!”

ANY PROPERTY DAMAGE CAUSED BY PATRON – If a Patron throws a bottle at a mirror and breaks it or kicks down a bathroom door.

Make a copy of this list. Post it somewhere visible. And make sure that your Staff know what is and is not considered an Incident. There is nothing worse than a Staffer not taking notes on an Incident when they should be! And when in doubt file an Incident Report.

INCIDENT PROTOCOL

Should one of the Incidents listed above occur in your establishment, quick action is necessary. Your protocol may vary from what we have listed, but your entire Staff should be taught what to do regardless of the steps or order in which you wish to take them.

1) Have one of your Staffers notify the Head of Security or Manager IMMEDIATELY. Do this slowly and calmly. If it is a serious Incident, the more patient and level-headed you are in dealing with it, the better off you will be. Tell them what the problem is and what, if any, steps you have taken.

2) The Head of Security/Manager should assess the situation and make a decision as to course of action (if none has been taken). This may entail contacting Law Enforcement in case of an altercation or calling for Medical Assistance in case of Injury. The Head of Security/Manager should take as objective a view as possible of the Incident. This means not taking sides or laying blame.

3) Make an attempt to contact the Patron(s) involved in the Incident or any Witnesses to the Incident. Try to gather their contact information and, if possible, gather any information, including a brief Witness report. If a Patron has witnessed a fight, ask them what happened. If someone threatened them, ask them for a description of the person doing the threatening.

When possible, try to make any questioning brief and to the point and do it with a calm demeanor. Individuals involved in altercations may be agitated. Let them calm down before trying to ascertain what happened. The more information you can gather, the better off you will be when you take the next step…

INCIDENT REPORTS

EVERY BAR NEEDS AN INCIDENT REPORT FORM!!!! Regardless of the size of your facility or type of crowd, an Incident Report form is necessary. We are trying to create a paper trail so that in case of litigation, you will have something to back up your side of the argument.

Don’t have an Incident Report Form? Well, try a Google Search. Easy, no?

The Incident Report Form should contain (at a minimum):

A place of Witness Information

Date/Time/Place of Incident

Staff Involved

Description of Incident

Again, this is the paper trail that will help you in case of some type of civil suit. Having even a minimal amount of documentation is better than having nothing at all. Train your Security Staffers in how to identify Incidents and how to fill out the proper Paperwork.You may not always be around and someone needs to know what to do in case a problem arises!

Until next time…