Date Rape Drugs

Just last week, three women in Santa Monica, California prevented a date rape. They were fortunate enough to see the accused would-be rapist slip something into his date’s drink and notified both the woman and the restaurant’s management. Long story short, the man was arrested and is now facing criminal charges. As luck would have it, the restaurant caught the incident on video, which was one of the reasons they were able to act so quickly and notify Law Enforcement.

Unfortunately, Drug-facilitated sexual assault is something that occurs to both women and men. And as in the case above, 75% of all acquaintance rapes involve drugs and/or alcohol. How can you lower the risks of something like this happening in your (or other) establishment(s)? The answer is not so cut and dry.

First off, an understanding of the drugs and their effects is necessary. I have condensed some of the information from Womenshealth.gov here and I suggest that you go to their website for a more in-depth analysis.

The three most common Date Rape drugs are:

  • Rohypnol*  (aka ‘roofies’)
  • GHB
  • Ketamine (Special K)

Their effects are similar and basic:

  • Muscle relaxation or loss of muscle control
  • Difficulty with motor movements
  • Drunk feeling
  • Loss of consciousness (black out)
  • Confusion
  • Feeling out of control
  • Impaired motor function
  • Can’t remember what happened while drugged

Recognize any of these symptoms? You should, as they are similar to what happens when people are intoxicated. And herein lies the problem: how can you tell if someone is drunk or under the influence of a Date Rape drug? You can’t. However, there is one thing that will absolutely mitigate the risk of potential Date Rape situations:

PAYING ATTENTION TO YOUR PATRONS – Because when you pay attention, you notice things!

  • When couples enter your establishment, try to gauge their level of intoxication. Is one more intoxicated than the other? As the evening progresses, has one of the individuals become markedly more intoxicated than the other? Many times, bartenders have a pretty good feel for who is at what level of intoxication and can gauge where people should be after a certain number of drinks. And as a nightlub security staffer you should learn to spot intoxication as well.
  • Are there single men or women sitting at your bar and standing around the dance floor/bar/lounge patio? Are they talking to anyone? Are they approaching groups of men/women or just single individuals? Are they purchasing beverages or approaching someone with beverages already in hand? Do they seem to be aggressively pursuing members of the opposite sex? This may not necessarily be a sign of someone drugging drinks but could be an individual who is making others uncomfortable.
  • As people exit the establishment what is their condition as it compares to when they entered? Obviously, if you have a huge crowd it is hard to gauge everyone’s state of sobriety. But if you watched the couple from earlier and he is carrying her out of the bar while he is dead sober, some flags should go up. Same goes for any individual who is being assisted on their way out.

ASK QUESTIONS AND COMMUNICATE

Bad people do NOT want attention. They do not want to be seen, heard, noticed, talked to, etc. So ask questions. Not everyone is a suspect nor should they be treated as such. But predators want to work on their terms not yours.

I am a big proponent of having conversations with Patrons. Asking people how their evening is going, if they watched the game, where they are headed that night…all simple questions that can often lead to more detailed and informative conversations. A group of women might point out a man who has been “creeping them out” or a single man might casually mention that he’s “…seen the same two women in a few bars that evening, always taking to single men, and they are here now.”

When people are carrying their “friend” out of the bar, ASK QUESTIONS. Are they ok? Who are they? Do you know these people? If you are not satisfied with the answer, ask more questions! A simple conversation can shed A LOT of light on a situation. I have witnessed numerous situations resolve themselves when a “bad guy” was asked just a few questions. If something seems very questionable: CALL THE POLICE. Many police departments have specific “Nightlife” units that are close by to help with issues you may encounter.

You and your team need to share information. If something doesn’t seem right mention it to someone else. They may have noticed the same thing or it might trigger something they saw earlier. Don’t be worried about mentioning something more than once. The more you talk, the more information gets spread around. Spotting something questionable and talking about it makes it a focus for your entire team.

Keeping an eye on your Patrons during arrival and departure is a good way to maintain customer relations, develop a rapport, and monitor them for any problems or questionable activity. Don’t be passive in your approach, be engaged, be personable, and PAY ATTENTION. Next time you might be the one to spot the troublemaker.

*Authorities are finding that Rophynol is slowly being replaced by Xanax and Klonopin in many cases.

Don’t Let Them Drink and Drive

1467450_10102866756713397_1893859367_nOn Thursday, December 7th, 2013, a young bartender by the name of Mallory Rae Dies was crossing the street. She was struck by a driver who fled the scene. He was apprehended a few blocks away after crashing his car into a tree. Mallory was taken to the hospital.

On Wednesday, December 11th, 2013, Mallory Rae Dies succumbed to the injuries that she sustained in the accident. She was 27 years old.

When the driver of the vehicle was apprehended, his blood alcohol level was .17 – twice the legal limit for the state of California. This was his third DUI offense.

REALITY

The reality is that bars and nightclubs thrive on people having a good time. The reality is that some of these people will get drunk. The reality is that some of these people will have too much to drink. The reality is that a percentage of these people – both slightly buzzed and heavily intoxicated – will get into vehicles and drive. The tragic reality is that a percentage of these drivers will injure, maim, or kill someone else.

Does this mean that bars, restaurants, lounges, and nightclubs should stop serving alcohol?

No.

But the reality is that keeping your Patrons safe and trying to keep them from driving drunk or getting into trouble is something that should be emphasized as much as possible.

LEGAL LIABILITY & SOCIAL RESPONSIBILITY

Most businesses want to reduce their liability as much as possible. In the litigious world we live in, you can be sued for almost anything. Slips, falls, fights, injuries – you name it, your establishment can be sued for it. As such, businesses like mine are called to help reduce the liabilities and keep businesses like yours in business. When it comes to over-intoxication and drunk driving, many states are now enacting laws that state, “Social hosts and business establishments may be held statutorily liable for the actions of a drunk driver according to the law in the jurisdiction where the accident took place.”

What does this mean? In short, your establishment can be sued for the damage that an intoxicated individual causes. I can already see business owners sweating and fretting over “yet another thing I have to worry about”. Well, at the risk of sounding a bit callous, maybe this is something you should really be thinking about…and not just for the simple reason that you “might get sued”.

Regardless of your legal liability, I think it is important that we look at how we handle the issues of over-intoxication and drunk driving as SOCIAL RESPONSIBILITIES. I want your Patrons to have fun. You want your Patrons to drink. Everyone wants to have a good time. But we owe it to each other as human beings to look out for one another. And we must realize that sometimes that means extending yourself beyond the reach of the Front Door of your establishment.

HOW CAN MY STAFF AND I BE MORE RESPONSIBLE?

First and foremost, every individual on your Staff should undergo some type of Alcohol Awareness Training. In some states and countries this is mandatory and in my opinion it should be that way everywhere. Your Staff might grumble and gripe, but invariably seminar attendees walk out with useful information and many times learn things that they did not know before.

Teach your Staffers to be aware of levels of intoxication and know how to spot Intoxicated Individuals. Make sure that they know how to deal with over-intoxication and mitigate its effects. Tell your Staff to communicate any issues with possible over-intoxication. That means that EVERY member of your team – from Management to Busboys – be on the lookout for issues and be willing to speak up if they spot a problem. Servers and bartenders should know that they ALWAYS have the power to stop serving alcohol if they believe an individual has had too much to drink.

Anyone working the Front Door should be assessing both arriving and departing Patrons for their intoxication levels. Refuse entry to those too drunk to enter and ALWAYS offer assistance to those leaving intoxicated. Call taxis (and pay for them!), offer to call the Patrons’ friends, flag down a Police Officer – just make sure that you are not letting someone stumble off into the night with no idea of what will happen to them. These aren’t just Patrons, they are someone’s sister, brother, cousin, aunt, uncle, mother, or father. I would hope that someone would look out for my loved ones if they were in trouble. And I would be eternally grateful if I found out that an employee from your bar was the one who helped to keep them safe.

PRACTICE WHAT YOU PREACH

Finally, if you are going to enforce rules at your bar, make sure you enforce them at your parties, at your friend’s parties, and when you are out on the town. Offer your fellow human beings assistance and let’s make sure that we all get home to enjoy the holidays with our loved ones. The few moments that you spend getting someone (maybe yourself!) into a cab or calling their roommate to come pick them up could literally save a life. Sometimes a little inconvenience on your part can save a lifetime of tragedy.

Stay safe. Keep each other safe. We’ll all be better off for it.

Spotting Intoxicated Patrons

I was working in an establishment recently that was having some issues with their Staffers ejecting Patrons on too regular a basis. What does that mean, exactly? Well, in this particular instance, the Staffers were told to watch out for over-intoxicated individuals and escort them out of the building. The problem was that the Staffers did not have the experience necessary to accurately gauge many of the Patrons’ sobriety levels. Hence, many Patrons were being asked to leave when they were not overly intoxicated. This, in turn, caused problems at the Front Door as the freshly ejected Patrons were angry at being ejected, wanted their money back (having paid cover), or wanted to speak to a Manager to discuss their “early departure”.

How does one gauge intoxication levels? Is it possible to do with any accuracy? And how does a Staffer make the decision as to when a Patron should leave? Difficult questions to answer in an environment where the primary goal is to get people intoxicated!

First off, Staff and Management need to come to an understanding about what is considered an “acceptable” level of intoxication. In most establishments, the general rule is: “If you can’t stand, you need to leave.” Now, this can cause an number of issues since by the time most people have drank enough to not be able to stand, they are WAY past being overly-intoxicated. But having a baseline for acceptable conduct (both in terms of intoxication and general behavior) is a good place to start. I would suggest a discussion with your Manager or Head of Security to sort out your baseline.

Next let’s look at some signs of intoxication:

1. Loud speech.
2. Bravado, boasting.
3. Overly animated or entertaining.
4. Boisterous.
5. Overly friendly to other guests and employees.
6. Drinking alone.
7. Drinking too fast.
8. Ordering doubles.
9. Careless with money.
10. Urging other people to have another drink.
11. Annoying other guests and servers.
12. Complaining about drink prices.
13. Complaining about drink strength or preparation.
14. Argumentative.
15. Aggressive or belligerent.
16. Obnoxious or mean.
17. Making inappropriate comments about others.
18. Crude behavior.
19. Inappropriate sexual advances.
20. Foul language.
21. Making irrational statements.
22. Depressed or sullen.
23. Crying or moody.
24. Radical changes in behavior.
25. Speaking loudly, then quietly.
26. Drowsy.
27. Bloodshot, glassy eyes.
28. Slurred speech.
29. Difficulty remembering.
30. Slow response to questions.
31. Spilling drinks.
32. Rambling conversation, loss of train of thought.
33. Trouble making change.
34. Difficulty handling money, picking up change.
35. Lack of focus and eye contact.
36. Difficulty lighting a cigarette.
37. Lighting more than one cigarette at a time.
38. Letting a cigarette burn without smoking.
39. Clumsy, uncoordinated.
40. Difficulty standing up.
41. Unusual gait.
42. Stumbling.
43. Bumping into things.
44. Swaying, staggering.
45. Unable to sit straight in chair or on bar stool.
46. Can’t find mouth with glass.
47. Falling down.
48. Mussed hair.
49. Disheveled clothing.
50. Falling asleep.

I’ve included this loooooong list to point out how difficult it can be to spot intoxication. Because while it does include some behaviors that undeniably point to over-imbibing, there are a bunch of items on the list that can be caused by a lot of things BESIDES drinking too much. Being overly loud? Kind of hard to whisper in a dance club. Disheveled hair? Maybe that’s the current style. Complaining about drink prices? Maybe the Patron is a cheapskate.

I prefer to boil down the list to three basics: WALK, REFLEXES/COORDINATION, TALK

WALK

An easy test at the Front Door is to have them take a few steps and turn around. If they are reaching out for balance or unsteady on their feet, you have at least an inkling of whether you should procede with a mini-intoxication test. If you are watching an individual walk through a club, see if they are unsteady, running into things/people, or stumbling. That being said, some women are not used to walking in high heels. You should be watching to see if they are just unable to walk correctly (sometimes displayed by stomping or shuffling of the feet) or if they are actually swaying/stumbling.

REFLEXES/COORDINATION

Lack of reflexes and coordination are the easiest things to spot when it comes to over-intoxication. Excessive swaying, whether standing or seated, is a dead giveaway as is holding onto objects or other people for balance. At the Front Door, an easy test is to ask individuals for their ID. Are they having a hard time finding it or getting it out of their wallet/purse? Do they drop it? And if they do, can they pick it up? Once you have their ID in hand, hold it for a few seconds. Is the Patron swaying? If you are unsure of the Patron’s sobriety level, you can purposefully drop their ID, see if they reach to pick it up, and whether or not they can.

Indoors, watch for people leaning on objects and constantly shifting to maintain their balance. Keep an eye on couples. Is one partner supporting the other or actively holding them up? Are people moving exceptionally slow or knocking things over? Are Patrons holding theirs heads in their hands or nodding off? When you talk to them, are their eyes focused on you or wandering?

TALK

If you do approach an individual to talk to them, start with simple questions. Many people equate having a conversation with an intoxicated individual to speaking with a 5-year old. You should keep sentences short and direct. It is counterproductive to argue with or bully an intoxicated individual. Period.

An easy first question to ask is, “How are you doing tonight?” The general responses are in the affirmative “Great!”, confused “What?”, or argumentative/dismissive. If the answer is in the affirmative, have a basic conversation while watching for swaying, focus, etc. You can then make a judgement call on how to proceed. If the answer is slow, deliberate, confused or argumentative, it is a sign that the person may be intoxicated. Again, watch for swaying, focus, coordination but also keep an eye on their general demeanor.

If a Patron becomes defensive, your goal is to put them at ease. It is VERY important to NOT tell an individual that they are drunk. They WILL argue with you. You can say that you “…noticed them swaying and wanted to check that they were ok.”, or they where “…getting a little loud and we’ve had some complaints.”, or you noticed them falling asleep. You need an “in” to figure out up close and personal if this individual is sober, intoxicated, or over-intoxicated.

Take time to watch people throughout the night. How do they behave as the evening progresses and the drinks start flowing? One great way to train new Staffers is to “assign” them an individual or a couple to watch for the night. Ask the Staffer to let you know when he/she thinks the Patron(s) are intoxicated and why. Spotting and dealing with different levels of intoxication takes a lot of practice. The better your Staff is at seeing a situation before it becomes a problem, the safer your establishment becomes. And that is the ultimate goal.

Until next time…

Just walk away…

Every weekend, at least one person on a Security Staff gets yelled at. Sometimes by management, more than likely by a Patron. And every weekend, at least one Security Staffer will react in the wrong manner. The saying, “If you can’t take the heat, stay out of the kitchen” is an apt one for the field of Security, especially if one is working in a Nightclub or Bar. There will be numerous occasions during which you will be mistreated or taken for granted. And guess what? You have to take it.

I can already hear the detractors:

“No one talks to me that way!”

“Did you hear what he/she said?”

“I refuse to be disrespected.”

Well, believe it or not I am on your side. I don’t think anyone should be disrespected, talked down to, or insulted. But there are ways of dealing with individuals who behave badly that DO NOT involved getting physical – which is unfortunately how most Security Staffers react.

For example, if someone were to say something less than flattering about your mother/sister/grandmother/brother there are two things to consider…and no they are not how hard to hit the person and where will they fall after you’ve hit them.

1) Is what the person saying true? If it is true, then the announcement being made is probably common knowledge. And while possibly embarrassing, everyone already knows so it’s no big deal.

2) Is what the person saying a lie? If it is, then what do you care?

Now I am being a bit sarcastic and callous. But honestly, if 3rd grade insults still offend you, you need to seek employment in another field. Keep in mind that the person insulting you is upset (for any number of reasons), probably intoxicated (which in my book often leads to approximately 3rd grade behavior), and definitely not cognizant of the fact that yelling insults at a 250 lb. person who’s job it is to keep the peace is probably not the best of ideas.

So, what is one to do? How do you calm down or eject someone who is hurling insults?

First off, don’t take it personally. Just don’t. Again, if you can’t handle insults, this is not the line of work for you.

Second, try a little empathy. Put yourself in that person’s shoes: their boyfriend/girlfriend just left them, they were just fired, and the bartender refuses to serve the any more alcohol. That is an equation that when added up equals not too good behavior. Sometimes a smile and a nod (even if you don’t agree with their argument) can go a long way to soothing someone. EVEN if they have said something completely out of bounds.

“Yessir, I appreciate that you think my mother is a lady of loose morals, but I’m still going to have to ask you to leave.”

The key with empathy is that you want the person to think you are on their side. They can call you all the names they want as long as you nod and lead them out the Front Door.

Third, if they are truly upset, you have to try and disrupt their train of thought.

“Hey!”

“Sir/Ma’am/Miss!”

“Excuse me!”

Say it loud and get their attention. Then…

“Can you slow down a little? I want to try and help out, but you’re speaking too fast for me.”

Now the Patron thinks you’re listening – whether or not you really are – and may even slow down and try to explain themselves. Again, nod, smile, and (possibly) continue leading them to the door. (Granted, if this is a possibly violent situation a different set of rules apply)

Now, you’ve managed to slow someone down, listened to their complaint, and possibly managed to get them to the exit without them even noticing. You know what you do now?

Walk away.

No, really. Hand them off to the Front Door staff and walk away. You have now managed to remove the object of the Patron’s anger – you – from the equation. And you probably haven’t laid a hand on them. I have seen people literally stand slack-jawed as they realize that the person they wanted so badly to vent their anger at is gone. Conversely, I have seen people become incredibly upset. But guess what? They are now outside of the establishment and bad behavior outside is more likely to be noticed by Law Enforcement and dealt with far more harshly.

There is one caveat: Let the Front Door staff know WHY you removed the person. At least they then have the opportunity to soothe nerves in their own way, in their own time. And finally, don’t try to get the last word in. A simple smile and a, “Have a good night.” will make you feel like a champ as you WALK AWAY.

Until next time…

Situational Awareness 2.0

Our previous discussion included a definition of Situational Awareness, how to practice it while on the job, and how to keep on your toes (i.e. playing the “What if…” game) during long, boring shifts. While all this is well and good, it is important to note that obsessive concern about one’s environment, safety, and security can be just as dangerous as lax behavior, if not more so.  Why?

Your body’s “fight or flight” response is there to help you in unexpected, emergency situations: a child jumping in front of your car, someone grabbing you from behind, fire breaking out in a movie theater. But a steady stream of stress and adrenalin can lead to burnout, both physical and mental. And it is very difficult to be cognizant of what is going on around you when you are burned out. Anyone working in a high risk, stressful environment can attest to this.

How then does one attain a comfortable level of Situational Awareness? By practicing what is referred to as “relaxed awareness”. You can remain in this mental state indefinitely without the strain of being on constant alert. It will allow you to enjoy your job (and your life) while still remaining aware of your surrounding. As a matter of fact, being in a state of relaxed awareness makes it easier to transition to four-alarm, sirens flashing, heightened awareness. If something unusual occurs you can heighten your awareness while making a determination of threat level. Then you can take action or stand down and relax again.

Some of you might say, “Relaxed awareness is an oxymoron. It is not possible to be both relaxed and aware at the same time!” Wrong. The next time you get in your car and go for a spin, take note of your mental state. Chances are you are calm, cool, and collected. If you aren’t, you probably shouldn’t be behind the wheel. You will notice that you take casual glances at your side and rear view mirrors, pay attention to possible hazards in the road, and watch your speedometer. All of this is done in a state of…relaxed awareness! Over the years, you have learned to seek out and identify possible threats while staying in a relaxed state. Those working in security should attempt to achieve this relaxed state while working the floor, but they can only do so if they know what to look for and practice, practice, practice. Kind of like when you got your learner’s permit to drive.

So what are you looking for while working your bar shift? Let’s do a positional breakdown:

Doorman – You are the first line of defense and as such bear the brunt of the responsibility to keep the troublemakers, drunks, and under-agers out of the bar.

  • How are people walking before they arrive? Stumbling, swaying, unable to stand? You should be watching people before they even arrive to your door!
  • When people show you their ID, do they look you in the eye? Do they act insulted if you ask them for ID? Do they try to hide in the middle of their group of friends and attempt to get by you without handing you an ID?
  • Is the patron rude, snide, or contentious upon arrival?
  • Are they carrying large bags or backpacks?
  • Are people following dress code? Any unusual lumps or bumps in their clothing? Is the clip in their pocket a knife?
  • How crowded is your doorway? Are people blocking the sidewalk or doorway?
  • Are patrons from inside the bar attempting to bring drinks outside or blocking the doorway on their way out?
  • When leaving the bar, are patrons visibly intoxicated? Are sober men (or women) trying to get the intoxicated person they are with out the door? Do they know this person?

Remember you are just as responsible for people leaving the bar, as you are people in the bar! It is important for the doorman to watch the sidewalk, doorway, and immediate entry way to maintain proper traffic flow and get people in and out as quickly and efficiently as possible.

Floorman/Static Posts – Your primary responsibility is to watch the crowd. In a perfect world you are positioned on a box or slightly raised platform to give you a nice view of the floor.

  • How are patrons walking? Swaying, stumbling, falling? Are men pushing, shoving, or jostling their way through the crowd?
  • Are groups of men clustering together? Are they shooting glances at other groups of men or gesturing to them? Are they encroaching on the personal space of groups of women?
  • Are any patrons (men or women) having conversations with very little personal space and a lot of gesticulation or angry body language?
  • Are there any men standing by themselves in corners or darker areas of the bar? Are any single men trailing after single women or cornering women?
  • Is there any roughhousing between men or groups of men on the floor?

You can spot a bad attitude from across a room. Scowling, furrowed brows, walking with elbows jutted out…all telltale signs of a bad attitude.

Roamers – You are the “cop on the beat”. You’re paying attention to the floor and maintaining traffic flow and order.

  • Are your hallways, walkways, and doorways clear, and is traffic flowing?
  • Are exit doors closed?
  • How are people acting in the restroom line? Are there men lurking by the women’s restroom?
  • Are there empty glasses and bottles on tables?
  • Are there any patrons swaying, holding themselves up, or holding their friends up?
  • Is there any roughhousing or early signs of altercations between individuals or groups?

Roamers’ best bet is to walk, walk, walk and watch for signs of bad behavior!

The key to achieving a state of “Relaxed Awareness” is to go over these items over, and over, and over again, until they become second nature. Once they become second nature, it will become easier for you to spot trouble before it occurs and act accordingly.

And what better way to spot trouble than know the Levels of Intoxication? You’ll have to wait til next time for that.

Situational Awareness

How many times have you heard the following phrases?

“I never saw him coming.”

“That car pulled out of nowhere.”

“The fight just broke out. I have no idea how it started.”

In our everyday lives, things occur around us at a rapid pace. We are constantly bombarded by stimuli in our environment: cars, televisions, people, phones. The list is literally infinite. Yet, while some people seem to be well-attuned to their environment, many seem absolutely oblivious. Like that guy with his shopping cart stopped directly in the center of the supermarket aisle, reading the contents of the bag of chips he’s about to buy and not realizing that you are trying to get past him.

What is the supermarket guy lacking? What are many people lacking in today’s world?

Situational awareness.

Situational awareness is “…the process of recognizing a threat at an early stage and taking measures to avoid it.” While the term itself if most commonly used in law enforcement and military community, everyday people exercise situational awareness in their daily lives. Driving, walking down the street, watching your kids, all involve some form of situational awareness. For those in the field of security, having good situational awareness is not only extremely useful, it can quite possibly save a life. Maybe your own!

Contrary to popular belief, being observant of one’s surroundings and identifying potential threats and dangerous situations is more of an attitude or mindset than it is a skill. And because of this, it can be adopted and employed by anyone! With a little bit of practice, it becomes quite easy to spot potential threats (even minor ones) and react to them before they develop into dangerous situations.

How does one develop and maintain situational awareness?

First, one must realize that a threat exists. Tuning out your surroundings reduces your chances of quickly recognizing a threat and avoiding it. Nightclub security can improve their situational awareness by simply paying attention. Not to the cocktail waitress and not to the go-go dancer. Pay attention to your job.

1) When you arrive to begin your shift, talk to the Head of Security and ask if there are any situations or individuals that should be paid attention to. How crowded is the club? Are there individuals who are showing signs of increased intoxication? Are there any individuals or groups that are acting (or beginning to act) aggressive?

2) After speaking to the Head of Security, do a quick walk through of the establishment. Are there tables or chairs that might constitute a blocking or tripping hazard? Any glasses or bottles that might fall off walls, chairs, or tables and break? Are all exit ways clear of blockages and are the doors closed to prevent illegal entry?

Paying attention to your surroundings will not only make you aware of potential hazards, it will place you in the proper mindset to begin your shift.

Maintaining situation awareness can be a bit more difficult. Everyone has had the experience of driving to a location and arriving without really remembering the trip. This “zoning out” tends to occur because we know the route we are traveling, become complacent, and let our mind drift. However, a cautious driver rarely “zones out”. They are constantly watching their route, checking their mirrors, and paying attention. As a bouncer, you maintain a level of awareness by engaging in the same type of behaviors. Here are some things to keep you on toes:

1) You should be constantly scanning your environment and looking for problem areas and patrons. Is that hallway getting congested? Why are those guys talking so loudly and gesturing at each other? Is that woman stumbling, or did she slip on something?

2) Conversations with co-workers should be kept to a minimum. Not only does a long conversation distract you from the job at hand, it will make your manager wonder why you are talking and not picking up the broken glass in Cabana 4. That is not to say that you can’t talk to your fellow staffers. But is does mean that one of you should be scanning the crowd while the other talks.

3) Conversations with patrons should be brief. Let the patron know that you are paying attention, but that you are also trying to do your job. It is fine to scan the crowd while talking to someone. Never should you feel uncomfortable telling a patron, “I’d love to talk more, but I really need to watch what’s going on right now.” An easy fix to this “conversation trap” is to turn so that the patron is not directly in front of you, but rather to your side. This way, you can talk to the patron and still watch the crowd. However, if you are dealing directly with an altercation or a serious situation ALWAYS pay attention to the situation at hand not what is going on across the club.

Boooooring….

Let’s not fool ourselves, it can get slow and boring some nights on the floor or in the door. This is not the time to get complacent or drift off into daydream land. As a matter of fact, it is often at these times that some of the worst incidences occur. Why? Because no one is paying attention.

A good game to play if you should find yourself getting bored while standing in the back hallway is “What If?” What if a fire broke out right now? What if that woman fell and twisted her ankle? What if those four guys started fighting? Not only will you keep yourself occupied trying to figure out responses, you could come up with some new solutions to any number of problems!

We will continue to examine Situational Awareness next time with a few examples in which Lack of Awareness could have lead to serious disaster. Until then, heads up!

Weebles Wobble…

…and they sometimes fall down.

I was going to talk about ejections today, but then and I thought about it, and what better time to discuss intoxicated patrons and how to deal with them than the Friday of Fourth of July weekend? Yes kids, it’s that time again! The weekend when people decide it is their God-given right as tax-paying American citizens to get as blasted as possible, act like belligerent two year olds, and make your life as a doorman/floorman/bartender a living hell. That is until next weekend when they come in to “apologize”.

I know what some of you are thinking: “Ah, give ‘em a break! Drunks are funny!” And I would be lying if I said that they aren’t on occasion humorous to deal with. But while drunks may provide occasional amusement, the source of the amusement, their intoxication, is no laughing manner. Intoxicated individuals exhibit impaired balance, poor coordination, reduced inhibition, and erratic behavior, all of which can lead to seriously dangerous situations for both them and you.

Security must be continuously conscious of the fact that patrons have been drinking and that their behavior is influenced by alcohol. Most of the time, being visible and attentive is a deterrent to people looking to misbehave.  Eye contact and body language can be used to let potentially troublesome patrons know their conduct is reaching the threshold for unacceptable behavior.

But sometimes, the “ol’ stink-eye” and wagging finger aren’t enough to get the point across and you must act accordingly. So how to deal with these patrons? Every bar and nightclub has its own approach, but there are basics to which any bouncer worth his salt should pay attention.

Should you find it necessary to approach an over-intoxicated patron or belligerent patron, your demeanor is often more important than the content of the conversation. Always, always, ALWAYS act with caution and patience when approaching a patron you believe to be intoxicated.

If you follow these rules, dealing with an intoxicated individual will be easier and more comfortable for both of you.

  • NEVER approach an unruly or over-intoxicated patron alone, ALWAYS bring along another member of security. Why? Because drunks are unpredictable. You never know when a civil conversation will turn into an altercation. Or when the barely-standing drunk will suddenly need to be carried because they can no longer stay on their feet. If possible, alert the other security staff of a possible intoxicated person. The more eyes you have on a possible drunk, the better.
  • Your body language should be secure and respectful. Do not look away or pay attention to other situations happening around the establishment. This is for your safety and to show the individual to whom you are speaking that they are the direct object of your attention.
  • Be respectful, but firm. Use the words, “Sir”,  “Miss”, “Gentlemen”, and “Ladies” as often as possible.
  • Always maintain a good interview stance (45 degree angle with respect to the patron and hands freely and readily available). Do not place your hands in your pockets, or occupy them with anything. This will protect you in case of an attack or  should you need to catch someone who is falling over.
  • Always start out the conversation calmly, but in a firm and non-threatening manner. Use a relaxed conversational tone and never shout.  Your choice of words and intensity can be increased as necessary. If you speak well, you might just avoid an escalating situation.
  • Ask if the Patron is “alright”, not if they are “drunk”.  Oftentimes, the word “drunk” can elicit a negative response from a person under the influence of alcohol. Their response to you will dictate whether they should leave, require a warning, or may continue to stay.
  • Explain how their behavior is affecting their safety or the enjoyment of others, and offer a possible solution.  “Sir, you seem to be having trouble standing. Why don’t you grab a seat?” If they are over-intoxicated, a simple, “Can I get you a water?” or “Can I call you a cab?” will not only give them an “out”, but will allow you to further assess their level of sobriety. Remember, we are constantly assessing the situation, the surroundings, and the individual.
  • You can often deal with an intoxicated patron by asking their friends to intervene. However, this must be coupled with a warning to the group that any continued misbehavior will result the over-intoxicated patron being asked to leave. Again, do not say, “Your friend is being a drunken idiot.” A simple, “Your friend may have had a bit too much to drink, can you give me a hand over here?”, will work wonders in most cases.

It is very important that when talking to someone,  you never back that person “into a corner”, either mentally or physically. Mentally backing a person into a corner can be as simple as treating someone rudely or disrespectfully. For example, if a group of gentlemen are being a little loud, you shouldn’t say, “Keep it down or your leaving!” Mentally, you just put them in a corner.

A better approach would be to say, “Good evening, gentlemen. I’m Joe Smith and I’m working security tonight. I realize you’re having a good time, but could you do me a favor and tone it down a bit? We would appreciate it.” This shows a respect for their good time while requesting a bit of respect from them for their environment.

If the patron is unwilling or unable to respond to you, a decision must be made for them. At this point, it is imperative that you contact your Head of Security or Manager and inform them of the situation. You can then decide on the proper course of action.

Above all, patience is key when dealing with the intoxicated. They will repeat themselves, they may forget where they are (or who they are), and they may not even realize who they are talking to. But it is your job to be patient, be helpful, and above all BE SAFE!