Weapons in Nightclubs

Safety is one of the greatest concerns you have as a Security Staffer. Working in a dimly lit, noisy environment, full of semi- to heavily intoxicated individuals of every possible background should be enough to make anyone sweat a little. Add to that the reality of your job being to limit liability in said environment and you can see why not many people work in the field for very long. We have written in much detail about the dangers of the job and what you as a professional can do to mitigate the risks. But one subject has not been broached until now:

WEAPONS

I’m not talking about weapons being carried by Patrons, but weapons being carried by people on Staff.

Before I get too deep into the subject, let me say this: everyone has their own opinions about carrying weapons – regardless of type – and the use of said weapons in a dangerous situation. When I say “weapons” I mean any tool that can be used in an offensive or defensive capacity, whether it be a flashlight or a gun. I am not here to advocate one way or another. I am here to point out the dangers of possessing/carrying a weapon from a LIABILITY standpoint, and things that you should take into account should you decide to carry a weapon.

Every city, county, and state in the Union has their own laws governing the carry, possession, and use of weapons while on the job. Before you consider whether or not to carry a weapon, you MUST research the laws and ordinances in your city/county/state. Just because a Manager or another Security Staffer says, “Oh, that’s alright everyone here carries xxxxxx” DOES NOT make it legal. You could be setting yourself up for serious trouble should you break the law in this respect. Do your research and if you are not comfortable with your understanding of the law, either ask an attorney or DON’T CARRY A WEAPON.

Should you decide to carry a weapon, there are a few questions you should ask yourself:

WHY?

Are you carrying to make yourself feel safer or does the job call for you to be armed? If the job calls for you to be armed, are you comfortable working in an environment that necessitates a weapon? Chances are if the environment calls for weapons, it is a step above your basic bar and grill. Or maybe it is just a matter of fact that weapons are carried by the Staff in this particular establishment. Either way, why are YOU carrying a weapon?

WHO?

Are the people around you also armed, and if so, do you feel comfortable being around them? You might have serious reservations about some of your co-workers carrying any type of weapon. If this is the case, you may want to reconsider your place of employment.

WHAT?

There is a big difference between carrying a heavy flashlight and mace and carrying a handgun. What are the Polices and Procedures when weapons are carried by the Staff?What type of weapon is required for the job? Are you providing said weapon or is your employer? If your employer is providing the weapon, what type of insurance are they carrying? What type of insurance are YOU carrying? Remember, we are talking about liability here. Who has the coverage should something go wrong?

WHERE?

If your employer is providing the weapon, where is it being stored? Are the weapons accessible to the public or just the Staff? Will you be carrying the weapon with you at all times or checking it in and out of somewhere? Are you bringing the weapon with you, and if so where can you store it?

HOW?

How is the weapon to be used? Most important, do you actually know HOW to use the weapon? A lot of people carry knives, batons, or handguns for security work with only the minimum necessary training. I would HIGHLY suggest that if you are one of these people, you start to train constantly, consistently, and under duress. Whacking a tree in your back yard, shooting at the range, and playing with your knife in your bedroom are far different than accessing and using your weapon while under pressure in an adrenalized state. Learn to use what you carry.

WHEN and WHY?

When do you imagine that you would need to use your weapon? Without venturing too far into the Use of Force continuum, at which point would you be comfortable using a weapon? There are very few situations in which use of a weapon is needed or called for in a nightclub environment. That just the plain facts. As a matter of fact, I would proffer that if you need to use your weapon, something has gone horribly wrong or you have not done your job correctly. Can things go horribly wrong? Absolutely. But I am betting that with good Situational Awareness, a little Verbal Judo, and a bit of Scenario training, you can be prepared to meet 99% of situations with a clear head and without using force OR a weapon. Heaven forbid you access and use you weapon, only to have something like this happen.

I want to make it clear that I am also writing to those of you who carry a knife or pocket stick or tasers or whatever. Should you use a weapon, there WILL be an investigation. And even if the law falls on your side, that doesn’t mean the damages you caused by using the weapon won’t be sought after in a civil case. You should very seriously consider the questions above should you decide to work while armed as well as the possible consequences should something “go south”

Don’t get me wrong, there are many instances in which self-defense is called for, even demanded. But you’re always going to have a hard time defending your use of a weapon against a civilian, regardless of danger level. Remember, you are not an officer of the law, you are a hired security guard and the rules are VERY different.

Until next time…

How To Become A Professional Bouncer

A little ways back, we dropped some knowledge about Looking for Work in the field of Nightclub Security. Well, let’s say you pounded the pavement, got yourself a shiny new job, and are slowly making your way up the ranks. Now what? Is there a way to reach greater heights? What are the greater heights? How does one actually become a “Professional Bouncer”?

Before we dig into the nitty gritty, a quick talk about the word “Bouncer”. Depending on where you go, who you talk to, and what you read (cough, cough – meaning this blog), you have probably heard any number of names for Nightclub Security Staffers: Bouncers, Coolers, Muscle, Guest Services, Event Staff. While I prefer the use of “Nightclub Security Staffers”; everyone, everywhere, knows exactly what is meant by the word “Bouncer”. And that is fine with me, as long as people understand that a “Bouncer” is not always just a body in a suit. Our goal here (and I believe it should be the goal of anyone who takes the profession seriously) is to change the general perception of what it means to be a “Bouncer” and slowly get people to realize that a name is just a label: it is the person wearing the label who attaches the negative or positive attributes to it.

“Is there such a thing as a Professional Bouncer?”, you ask.

The answer is yes. Technically, if you are getting paid to do the work, you’re a professional. But I believe that there are “professionals” and there are PROFESSIONALS. PROFESSIONALS carry themselves a little differently, think outside the box, take their jobs seriously, and not only do their jobs but assist others with additional responsibilities at the same time. A true professional is willing to ask Who, What, Where, When, and How. Not just “Why?”

So how does one become a PROFESSIONAL? It’s actually quite simple: do your job as efficiently and professionally as possible.

1) Get Certified/Licensed – In the United States (and many other countries), you need some type of certification to work as a Security Guard. Geting certified not only shows that you take your job seriously, but it gives you the basic training needed to begin to do your job well. If an establishment is willing to hire you without certification you might want to reconsider. Chances are they are cutting corners in a number of places. Not to mention that working without certification is illegal. In addition, should you find yourself involved in an altercation that results in some type of injury – especially without a license or certification – the jury will not look kindly upon you or your actions.

2) Show up on time – Even better, show up for your shift early. It comes back to taking your job seriously. By showing up early, you can find out what is going to happen during your upcoming shift, prep any gear that you haven’t dealt with already, do a walkthrough of the establishment, and check in with your Supervisor or Head of Security. Who would you prefer to work with, the guy who strolls in the door ten minutes late with a cup of coffee in one hand or the guy who is already suited up and ready to roll before the shift even begins? (Hint: it’s the second guy)

3) Dress appropriately and look the part – Amazing how many guys show up with their shirts untucked, dinner stains on their pants, hair tussled, and yawning. The last thing a customer wants to see is a Staffer walking to their post, tucking in their shirt, earpiece dragging behind them. Believe it or not, you are representing yourself and your establishment before you even walk in the door. It doesn’t take that much to be prepared before your shift. And if you aren’t prepared, refer to #2. If you show up early, you can head to the back and be prepped by the time your shift starts.

4) Prep your gear – It is your responsibility to be ready when the shift starts. That means having your flashlight, earpiece, duty belt, lapel pin, and assorted equipment prepped and good to go before stepping on the floor. Buy your own flashlight and batteries and have a back up set. Get your own earpiece. Have multiple shirts, pants, and pairs of shoes. Test your gear before you work and get back ups if necessary.That way, you are never caught without what you need to do the job.

5) Don’t get into fights – It seems ridiculous to have to say it but your job is to prevent fights, not start them. If your perception of this occupation is fights, fights, fights, you are missing the point completely. Your job is to keep the patrons, the establishment, and your co-workers safe. Period. If you are the bouncer who is always “mixing it up”, you’ll eventually find yourself on the losing side of the fight…or lawsuit. I’m not saying that you shouldn’t defend yourself, but if you are starting the problems…find another job.

6) Ask questions – If you don’t know the answer to a question, ask someone else. If you don’t know how to do something, ask. If you want to learn something, ask. By asking questions, you show that you are seeking clarification or are interested in gaining knowledge. Which in turn means that you take what you do seriously.

7) Be patient – No one is perfect. Not your boss, not your co-workers, not the intoxicated patrons, and certainly not you. When things go wrong or when there is yet another problem to deal with, take a deep breath and approach it patiently and calmly. Going into any situation – especially when dealing with an intoxicated individual – with a hot head will get you NOWHERE. Being patient allows you to listen better, be more objective, and hopefully solve any conflicts with a clear head.

8) Keep training – Learn new skills, constantly. Whether it is how to check IDs, learning more about intoxication, studying martial arts, or practicing conflict resolution, any new skills that you acquire will help you become more proficient at your job, which in turn helps you become a PROFESSIONAL.

9) Be a mentor…or look for one – Once you’ve learned some skills, start teaching others. Teaching someone is the best test of whether or not you really understand a concept. You need to have complete understanding of any concept in order to teach. You can’t just ‘kind of get it’ or know it just well enough to get by; you MUST know your subject.

If you are not ready to teach, find someone to guide you. Set your ego aside and admit that you don’t know it all and need some help in learning something new. Mentors allow you to grow and learn while they correct your mistakes.

Finally, take what you do seriously. All the time. Does this mean that you can’t laugh or crack jokes on the job? No. But it does mean that you approach every situation with a clear head, an objective point of view, and a serious attitude. Remember, this job can be dangerous at the most unexpected moments. And unexpected moments tend to occur when you aren’t taking things seriously. Get your head straight and take on the issues you run across in a positive, PROFESSIONAL manner. Behaving like this is bound to get you noticed for all of the right reasons.

Until next time…