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…

What Does A Bouncer Do?

What does Security actually do? A lot of different things, many of them unseen by the general public. Here’s a little breakdown for you – with liberal doses of humor. If you can’t laugh at life once in a while, what’s the point? A tip of the hat to those who work in the field, some of whose stories I am using in the examples below.

  • Take your fake ID and give it to the police so that you avoid the ticket
  • Tell you to put your high heels back on so you don’t step on the broken glass…or into the puddle of vomit
  • Break up the fight your boyfriend is getting into because, “No one talks to my lady.”
  • Break up the fight your girlfriend is getting into because, “No one looks at my man.”
  • Keep you from climbing over the wall so you don’t slip, fall, and lose your teeth
  • Break up the fight you and your boys started because you, “Roll deep!”
  • Saving you and your boys from the fight you are losing because your opponents “Roll deeper.”
  • Carry you out the door and pour you into a taxi so that you don’t wake up in the drunk tank at 4 a.m. on a Tuesday
  • Ask you to stop dancing and climb down from the bar so that you won’t fall…and people won’t notice that you apparently forgot to wear underwear with your mini-skirt
  • Pull you away from the MMA fighter who you drunkenly informed, “I could probably kick your ass”
  • Take you out of line and put you on a bench so the police officers watching the line won’t arrest you for being drunk in public
  • Inform you prior to entry that your winning team’s sport jersey should probably not be worn to the losing team’s bar
  • Pull the creepy guy off you who insists that he knows you…even though your name is Tina and he says it’s Nancy
  • Patiently listening to you while you drunkenly insist on talking to your “…good friend Dave, the manager”, even though his name is Steve and he has no idea who you are
  • Try not to laugh too loud when you cut in line and say you, “…are going to spend mad cash up in here”…and it’s $2 drink night
  • Allow you to vomit on us so that you don’t vomit on the police officer
  • Deny you entry for over-intoxication now, so that we don’t have to carry you back out the door in five minutes
  • Kick you out of the bar for “motorboating” the cocktail waitress…whose boyfriend happens to be the Head of Security.
  • Take the beer from your hand before you walk out to the sidewalk with it and into the waiting arms of Law Enforcement
  • Nod and smile when you drunkenly inform us that our mothers are “women of loose morals”, and then guide you into the waiting arms of Law Enforcement
  • Thank you for telling us that our club is the “worst place ever” and let you know that the biker bar next door would appreciate a person of your candor

Believe it or not, the guys working the door and inside the club are there for your safety and security. They want you to have a good time, preferably one that doesn’t involve ejection of bodily fluids, physical violence, or verbal threat. Give ’em a break, huh?

Until next time…

What’s The Scenario?

A local Head of Security and I were discussing a variety of topics the other day and the subject of training came up. And while many security teams in other fields – Executive Protection being one – practice scenarios on a regular basis (or at least they should), I have rarely seen a Nightclub Security Staff working any type of training drills. Some of my readers might argue that scenario training is unnecessary in a nightclub environment. “You see the same situations all the time, why train them?”

Easy answer: Proper Prior Planning Prevents P*ss Poor Performance

Any field of work that requires an immediate or urgent response should do some type of scenario training. Scenarios will show where there are gaps in response time, failures of action, failures of inaction, overreaction, and any other issues. Many people, when placed under some type of pressure, will freeze up. The pressure could be something as basic as your boss asking you an unexpected question or as terrifying as having to respond to a choking child. In an fluid environment, filled with intoxicated individuals, having the correct response can mean the difference between life, death, a lawsuit…or vomit on your shoes. Training can help to minimize dangers and shorten the response times to a variety of incidents.

A basic game of question and answer is a great start when building Scenario Training. Think up 3-5 scenarios that your crew might run into on a given night. During the night or at the pre/post shift meeting, throw out a scenario and ask what your Staff would do. You can ask them individually or have them brainstorm as a group. Then, break down and evaluate the answers. Point out conflicts with policy or procedure and ask for other options or solutions to the scenario. And always remember to give them what your response would be. You might be surprised to find that your crew has come up with responses you had not considered.

Another possibility would be to actually put your crew through some physical Scenarios. Place them in their respective positions, grab some extra Bar Staff, and act out the Scenarios you have imagined. The mere fact that your crew is being tested will usually bring up their heart rates and adrenaline level – even if they know it is only a Scenario. Run the Scenario multiple times with different people in each position. Observe their reactions, take notes, and review what just happened. Discuss aspects of Situational Awareness that they could use to their advantage.

Scenario evaluation should be an opportunity for you to positively reinforce your crew’s actions. If you find yourself constantly berating your Staffers, it might be a case of your original training not being up to par. Evaluate yourself and your skill set as well. Put yourself in the mix once in a while. Don’t ever think that because you are the one presenting the problems, your skill set is miles above that of your trainees. Again, you might be surprised what you discover about yourself..

The one type of training that I would avoid with Security Staffers is physical ejections. While it is necessary to discuss how to physically remove someone from an establishment, showing things like wrist locks, arm bars, and chokes WILL open you up to liability. The Use of Force continuum is one that should be discussed and re-enforced regularly, but there are plenty of ways to move a person besides being hands-on. Aside from the risk of liability, the mindset of some Security Staffers will prevent them from working an ejection Scenario safely. They will be more likely to act out against their other Staffers, “Oh yeah, well you’ll never take me down! Try it!”, and this can lead to sparring and other ridiculous behavior. These are training sessions, not tough guy sessions, and anyone that can’t work in an environment of learning is probably not someone you want working for you to begin with. Scenarios are used to train your brain, not your brawn.

Until next time…

Nightclub Security Positions (Part 3) – Door Outs

Today we continue out discussion of positional responsibilities with DOOR OUTS. Some you are probably confused, wondering, “Why is there someone watching who is exiting a Nightclub?’ Allow me to tell you…

Door Outs/Line Walker is one of the more misunderstood, underrated, and usually overlooked member of the Security Staff. In fact, many clubs and bars do not have a Door Outs position.

Skill Set and Responsibilities:

  • Have general knowledge of a Bar/Nightclub’s Policies and Procedures. That means reading your establishment’s Security Manual.
  • Provide access control to both VIP and Regular lines – If your club has separate lines for different clientele, it is up to the Door Outs position to make sure that Patrons are being directed to the proper line. A party of 10 with bottle service does not want to be put in the 100 person long Entry line. Door Outs should be engaging with any Patrons approaching the Front Door and asking how they may be of assistance. And, though it may seem obvious, Door Outs has to keep people from entering through the Exit Door!
  • Maintain line control for VIP/Regular lines – This, along with access control, is of great importance. Door Outs has to make sure that people aren’t crowding the entrance, jostling in line, cutting in line, are properly dressed, etc. Nothing is more frustrating to Patrons than arriving at the head of the line, only to find out they are in the wrong place or can’t get in! Door Outs should constantly be informing people (especially in the VIP line) whether or not they are in the correct line or are dressed appropriately for entrance.
  • Maintain traffic flow on sidewalk in front of Main Entrance – Nightclub and Bar entrances are notorious for having crappy traffic control, especially at the Front Door. Door Outs needs to constantly move people along, by shining a flashlight if necessary to avoid blockages. If you start to get a crowd in this area IMMEDIATELY clear it. Once people see a group crowding the Door, they will try to jump in and next thing you know you have a mob out front.
  • Answer any Patron Questions re: entrance requirements, dress code, and cover charge – Make sure you are constantly communicating with your Door Outs in regards to any changes to dress code and cover charge, especially if these change in the course of an evening. The better informed Door Outs is, the better informed your Patrons, the happier your Club.
  • Monitor “Door Out” count – That means clicking off every individual that walks out the Exit. Make sure your count is good so the Fire Marshall can’t ticket you for being over-capacity. That also means the Door Outs should be in communications with Door Ins to confirm that there is still room in the Club, henceforth allowing them to pass that information on to whoever is waiting  in line.
  • Monitor sobriety of Patrons exiting establishment – Door Outs needs to keep an eye on anyone departing in an intoxicated state. Whether single women and men or drunk couples, it is imperative that Door Outs guide them to a Taxi or a bench to sit on. If necessary, Roamers may be contacted to find lost friends or call for transportation if needed. Door Outs should also be making sure Patrons are not wandering into the street or loitering.
  • Work closely with Law Enforcement to maintain order at Front Door and Sidewalk – Law Enforcement will not be happy with you if your sidewalk is so crowded that it impedes traffic flow. Door Outs should work with Law Enforcement to clear the sidewalk or develop a strategy to keep it clear.

Door Outs should also be walking the lines in front of the establishment monitoring the demeanor of individuals and making sure that your stanchions are staying in place. Patrons have a tendency to “bubble” in line, bunching up in a large group instead of filing  in by twos and threes. Door Outs must be on a radio, prepared to clear the Exit (which should be a clear as possible) in case of any Ejections! A Staffer with good Door Outs skills can make the difference between the lines at your club’s Entrance being a mob scene or as orderly as a Convent food line.

Keep your Door Outs informed and well-paid. They will save you from the aggravations, a crowded sidewalk, and angry, misinformed Patrons who don’t know where to stand.

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!