Patron Ejections and Escorts

Over the past few years, I have written more than a few posts on Bar fights, Ejections, over-intoxicated Patrons, and how to How to Minizmize Nightclub Ejections. I wanted to take some time in this post to breakdown ejections a bit more and give you and your crew some more material to ponder.

It is important to remember that many of the Patron ejections you will deal with are cases of over-intoxication. Some of these individuals may be compliant, while others…not so much. Remember, regardless of the level of resistance on the part of the Patron, it is very important that you as a Security Staffer use the minimum amount of force necessary to get them out the door. More resistance on the part of the Patron does not necessarily equal more force on the part of the Staff.

Let’s take a moment to look over what an “escort formation” should look like:

^^^^^ Direction of the Ejection ^^^^^

X (Lead)

3′-5′ spacing

P (Patron)

X (Escort)To the rear and side of Patron, at arm’s length distance

 3′-5′ spacing

X (Follow)

The first position is held by your “Lead”. This Staffer is tasked with two basic assignments: to light the way and to clear the path. You may have noticed that when Patrons are enjoying themselves in an establishment, they can be fairly oblivious to what is going on around them, especially if the bar/club is noisy and crowded. The “Lead” needs to announce – loudly – that they need a clear path! “Coming through, heads up, look out folks, etc.” The wording doesn’t necessarily matter but you need to let people know that you are heading their way.

The Lead should also be no more than 5 feet in front of the “Escort”. This will allow for room to maneuver should the Escort need to restrain the Patron and will cut down on the possibility of the crowd sneaking in-between the Lead and the Escort. In addition to their announcements, the Lead should use a flashlight to light the way and to let people know they are headed in their direction.

The Escort is the key part of the ejection equation. More than likely they are the one who has talked to the Patron being asked to leave and may be supporting them (if they are unable to walk) or restraining them (if they are combative). Their entire focus of attention should be the Patron. The Escort should be walking just behind and to the side of the Patron. If the Escort is not supporting the Patron in any fashion they should be no farther than arm’s length away.

DO NOT stand directly behind the Patron while escorting them out. Should they stop short, turn suddenly, or become violent, a position directly to their rear is not easily defensible. Standing at an offset angle behind the Patron will force them to adjust their stance/gait in order to get to you. This, in turn, will give you the benefit of off-balancing of them AND of protecting yourself from wild swings, elbows, or headbutts.

The “Follow” position is often the most overlooked part of this equation. Their main job is to communicate to the rest of Staff and the Front Door that an ejection is taking place. The phrase, “One coming out, Front/Side/Back Door!” works perfectly and lets the Staff know which exit should be prepared to receive the Patron. The Follow must also deal with those individuals who are interfering with or impeding the Ejection. 95% of the time, when you are ejecting a Patron, their friends want to get involved. If you are lucky, they are just concerned with their friend’s safety. If you are unlucky, they may try to physically interfere with the process. While this is a concern for the entire escort team, it falls on the Follow to provide the physical barrier between the Friends and the Patron/Escort. If necessary, the Follow can call for back-up to help with the ejection process or the Patron’s friends.

Besides providing a physical barrier, part of the Follow’s job is to keep eyes on the crowd as the escort formation moves through it. People reaching out, trying to slip into the escort formation,  or trying to interfere with the Escort: all of this should be handled by the Follow. This means that they are also within 3-5 feet of the Escort at all times. I also suggest the Follow shine their light directly on the back of the Patron’s head. Why? Should the Patron turn, they will get a good dose of unexpected light in their eyes. Will this prevent all problems? No. But it can give you and the team an extra couple of seconds to deal with the Patron while they blink in the light.

During the entire ejection process, the escort team should be talking to each other, moving, and maintaining situational awareness. DO NOT STOP. Stopping provides the Patron more time to argue, allows their friends to catch up, allows the crowd to get involved, and most importantly: impedes your forward progress!

Get moving, stay moving, pay attention, and get out the door.

Until next time…

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.

Minimizing Nightclub Ejections

In my various travels through the world of Security work, I’ve found that there is an inevitable discussion that takes place at some point: How to handle ejections or removals of belligerent patrons/crowd members/clients? And while I find these chats constructive and informational, I usually walk away thinking, “Why are we never discussing how to deal with the problem BEFORE it becomes a problem?” In the real world, situations arise that are not cut and dry, black and white, or easily resolved with a catchphrase or witty retort. In the real world, there are more “Oh sh*t!” moments than there are “Ah-ha!” moments. So how do we reverse that equation in a Nightclub Environment where testosterone, pheromones, alcohol, intoxication, and loud music are thrown into the mix?

For starters, you need to be honest with yourself as a Bouncer, Head of Security, Manager, or Owner: YOU WILL NEVER BE ABLE TO PREVENT EVERY SINGLE POTENTIALLY DANGEROUS SITUATION FROM OCCURRING IN YOUR ESTABLISHMENT. Seriously. You will NOT catch every fight, slip, stumble, argument, or foul mood in your venue. What you can, however, attempt to do is lessen the chances of bad things happening.

1) MANAGE YOUR FRONT DOOR – This does not mean placing your Manager at the Front Door. What is does mean is controlling your traffic flow, making sure that Patrons know which line they need to use to enter the Establishment, minimizing crowds in front of your venue, scrutinizing Patrons who are entering for Dress Code and Intoxication, and making sure that your Front Door Staffers are personable and efficient. If people are content BEFORE entering your venue, they will stay that way 90% of the time.

Do you have:

  • Signage that indicates which Entrance/Line is which
  • A posted Dress Code
  • A sign indicating Cover Charge (if applicable)
  • An designated VIP host
  • A designated Staffer to walk the sidewalk and direct people to the correct line/clear crowds/answer questions/look for signs of intoxication

90% of eliminating trouble inside is dealing with it outside. Again, if people are happy outside, they will probably be happy inside (isn’t that all philosophical and stuff?)

2) MANAGE YOUR POSTS – Make sure that you and your Staff are where they are supposed to be, when they are supposed to be there. That means Staffers showing up on time and knowing their responsibilities once they get to their Posts. Does your Staff rotate through Posts? If so, does the rotation leave any gaps, or do you have someone on a Post until they are “tapped out” of the rotation? Are your Staffers actually working while at their Posts or are they texting/talking to Patrons/napping/not paying attention?

3) UTILIZE YOUR TOOL BOX – The Security Staff are not the only ones working a venue. Busboys, Cocktail Waitresses, Servers, Bartenders, Promoters, DJs. They are all present and all working at some time during the evening. You should be checking in with them as often as you check in with your team. The people on the floor are the ones that are in the mix and can tell you who is acting a fool, which VIP booth is being rude, or which annoying Patron is harassing the Staff.

So what do these three things have to do with minimizing ejections? When done in conjunction, the items listed above do one very simple thing: force you to pay attention to your job. What is your job? Reducing liability. Paying attention to what you are supposed to be doing will help you to catch the great majority of problems WELL BEFORE they occur.

The Dress Code issue that you catch at the Front Door will keep you from having to eject someone from inside the club after they’ve ordered drinks and are ready to have a good time. The Staffer watching the sidewalk can catch the overly-intoxicated group of gentlemen before they wait 30 minutes to get let in and are refused entry, thereby avoiding an ugly scene at the entrance. The Staffer not texting will be able to spot trouble brewing right in front of him/her, jump in to separate the arguing Patrons, and calm down the situation. Asking the Cocktail Waitress how her night is going will reveal that the table full of sorority girls is being harassed by a drunk older man.

Pay attention. Pay attention. PAY ATTENTION. The more you observe, the more information you take in. The more information you take in, the quicker you act. The quicker you act, the faster the resolution. The faster the resolution, the higher the happiness quotient for everyone involved. And who doesn’t want to be happy?

Until next time…

I’m not as think as you drunk I am…

As a nightclub security staffer, you see intoxicated patrons on a regular basis.

A very regular basis.

Like, an every night regular basis.

But very few people (nightclub professional or not) know the science behind Blood Alcohol Content. So let’s do a quick (and slightly scientific) review.

When you ingest alcohol about 20% is absorbed in the stomach and 80% through the small intestine. Blood vessels in both carry the alcohol into the body’s bloodstream. Enzymes in the liver then metabolize the alcohol and begin the process of breaking it down. Your liver can typically process only one ounce of liquor an hour – the equivalent of one drink. When an individual drinks more than this, their body simply cannot break the alcohol down fast enough and as a result alcohol builds up in their bloodstream. This leads to various degrees of inebriation and is why people who drink a large volume of alcohol in a short time span remain drunk for an extended period of time.

How fast alcohol is absorbed into the system is decided by several factors:

  • The concentration of alcohol in the beverage – The greater the concentration, the faster the absorption.
  • The type of drink – Carbonated beverages tend to speed up the absorption of alcohol.
  • Whether the stomach is full or empty – Food slows down alcohol absorption.

These last sentences are particularly important bouncers and doormen. When you see an individual stumbling, unable to stand, having difficulty focusing, or slurring their words, their BAC has very often not peaked yet. Which means they are about to be even more drunk! It is essential that these individuals are prevented from entering your establishment. By admitting said patron into your bar and giving them more alcohol, you are “overserving” which is a big legal no-no!

If these patrons are already in your bar, or have become this drunk, it is imperative that you watch them (to prevent them from hurting themselves or others), watch after them (by finding their friends and telling the bartender to cut them off), or provide them with the necessary assistance to leave the premises and get home in one piece. This is accomplished by calling a cab (don’t forget the name of the cab company and the driver’s business card!), placing them in the care of a sober friend, or calling Law Enforcement.

So what about BAC (Blood Alcohol Content) and its effects? Here is a breakdown (the titles are mine):

Slightly Tipsy (or Let’s Get This Party Started!)

0.02-0.06 BAC: No loss of coordination, slight euphoria and loss of shyness. Depressant effects are not apparent. Mildly relaxed and maybe a little lightheaded. Feeling of well-being, relaxation, lower inhibitions, sensation of warmth. Euphoria. Some minor impairment of reasoning and memory, lowering of caution. Your behavior may become exaggerated and emotions intensified (Good emotions are better, bad emotions are worse)

Buzzed (or Yeah, shots!)

0.07-0.09 BAC: Slight impairment of balance, speech, vision, reaction time, and hearing. Euphoria. Judgment and self-control are reduced, and caution, reason and memory are impaired, .08 is legally impaired and it is illegal to drive at this level. You will probably believe that you are functioning better than you really are.

Drunk to Sloppy Drunk to “You’re My Best Friend” Drunk

0.10-0.19 BAC: Significant impairment of motor coordination and loss of good judgment. Speech may be slurred; balance, vision, reaction time and hearing will be impaired. Euphoria. Dysphoria predominates (sadness, anxiety, irritability, or restlessness), nausea may appear.

Spring Break Drunk

0.20-0.25 BAC: Feeling dazed, confused or otherwise disoriented. May need help to stand or walk. If you injure yourself you may not feel the pain. Some people experience nausea and vomiting at this level. The gag reflex is impaired and you can choke if you do vomit. Blackouts are likely at this level so you may not remember what has happened. All mental, physical and sensory functions are severely impaired. Increased risk of asphyxiation from choking on vomit and of seriously injuring yourself by falls or other accidents.

“Somebody Call 911” Drunk

0.30-.35 BAC: STUPOR. You have little comprehension of where you are. You may pass out suddenly and be difficult to awaken. Coma is possible. This is the level of surgical anesthesia.

“Yeah, Mrs. Johnson? Jimmy’s in the Hospital” Drunk

.40 BAC and up: Onset of coma, and possible death due to respiratory arrest.

While it is easy to joke about these levels of intoxication, it is important to realize that we are dealing with potentially life-threatening circumstances. Nightclub security staff should ALWAYS be prepared to call for help from trained medical professionals or Law Enforcement should they find themselves unable to deal with a particularly intoxicated patron. A severely inebriated individual is not only a danger to themselves, but may be a danger to others.

Make it a point to learn these levels of intoxication. A good exercise to practice is “Watching the Progression”. Pick a group of individuals as they enter the bar, watch them over the course of the next few hours, and try to decide on a course of action. Do you notice a behavior change? How does their behavior change? Do some individuals seem to fare better than others? Is it time to get them water? Cut them off? Call a cab?

Observation will get you very far in this business. Spotting an individual on their way to serious intoxication will not only make your job easier, it will prevent seriously liability. And if you have a good team of observers, very little will go by unnoticed. But I’ll save that for next time!