Nightclub Security Fundamentals

In the wake of this week’s Orlando nightclub shooting, there has been much discussion about what could have been done to prevent a large-scale massacre. We must first recognize that shootings on this scale (over 10 people) in nightclub/bar environments have never occurred within the United States. To state that mass casualty incidents such as this one are the norm or increasing in entertainment venues is not only counterproductive, it is patently false. However, the stark reality is that there are incidents involving guns in and around nightclubs on a regular basis. At least every few days, there is a report about a shooting or altercation involving some type of firearm in a bar or nightclub. And while some would try to guide the discussion towards preventing these specific large-scale events from occurring, the more measured approach should be to examine how bar, nightclub, lounge, and nightlife venue security can be improved on the whole.

The ultimate goal for any owner is to provide a comfortable environment for people to enjoy themselves. But at the same time, they must reduce liability and deter or dissuade those with criminal or potentially violent intentions. No discussion about nightclub security can begin without first talking about the role of the security staffer. It is these employees whose part in the overall scope of security is critical to the function of any bar, nightclub, or nightlife venue. Security staffers act as the front line when it comes to reducing liability, providing protection (for both patrons and the physical venue), and dispensing solid customer service. They are usually the first – and last – individuals that patrons will encounter in an establishment, and the staff’s attitude and approach can mean the difference between a customer’s great night on the town or a ruined evening.

Security staffers will spot trouble before the CCTV system, respond to any issues before law enforcement, and take care of any number of problems before the manager can arrive to help out. But no matter how well trained the staff may be, their ability to provide a safe, secure venue for patrons is dependent on the steps that management takes to assist them in the performance of their duties. Every establishment’s security program needs to be built on the idea of “concentric rings of security”, of which the security staff is only one.

Your First Ring of Defense – The Exterior

The first ring of protection begins with the physical security measures in place outside of an establishment: CCTV cameras, secured places of ingress and egress, and visible security staff. People with questionable intentions – whether petty thieves, underage drinkers, or armed attackers – are often deterred by the mere fact that there is security in place. In the majority of cases, criminals do not want to be seen, heard, noticed, or remembered. CCTV cameras limit the criminal’s ability to access a location unseen or enact their plans without being captured on video. Externally locked and clearly marked exit doors not only limit access but can force troublemakers to travel in a direction that will place them in contact with a posted staff member or within line of sight of a camera. Dedicated entry areas force interaction with security staff providing an excellent opportunity for them to ask for ID, remember a face, or potentially bar access to the venue – again limiting options for the would-be criminal.

The physical design of an entry and layout of a rope line can also help to direct people to specific areas, forcing the criminal to figure a way around perceived obstacles. Separate staging areas (i.e. entry line, cover charge area, and coat check) provide additional opportunities for observation of potentially violent or illegal behavior. The more time a potential troublemaker is exposed in an open area or under the watchful eye of an individual or series of cameras, the less likely they are to take any chances. If a target is too difficult or time-consuming to get to, the criminal will choose another target.

Additional steps that can be taken at the front door include the addition of metal detectors (static or handheld), bag checks, and physical pat downs. Besides the potential discovery of weapons before they can be introduced into the venue, these stepped-up measures can reveal everything from illegal drugs to banned items. The obvious downside is that people want to go out for a night on the town, NOT take a trip through the TSA line in order to grab a drink! What some clientele may view as a necessary annoyance others might view as an unwelcome intrusion. Remember, what patrons experience at the front door is going to set the tone for the evening and as such, establishments should have in-depth discussions regarding the implementation of what might be interpreted by some as “extreme” measures.

The Interior Staff – Your Second Line of Defense

While front door staffers are keepers of the gate, interior staffers will be the ones holding the line once the patrons enter. Interior staffers are the eyes and ears of a venue and will more often than not be the first to respond to issues within the establishment. A visible, easily identifiable – whether by uniform, dress code, or name tag – security staff member acts not only as a deterrent but as a potential helping hand to patrons in need of assistance. Knowing that they can easily find and communicate with a security staffer adds to patrons’ comfort levels and thereby their enjoyment of the evening. They know that should a problem occur, there is a staff member there to help. Security staffers should always make it a point to interact with patrons. Extended conversations about the general state of world affairs aren’t necessary, but greetings and questions about how patrons’ evenings are going are a must. The smallest conversations can oftentimes help reveal trouble or brewing problems.

To that end, observation and communication are among the most important factors to successful security coverage. Too many times a potential issue is noticed or handled by staffers within the establishment and there is no communication of the incident to those working the front door, to management, or even to others working within the venue. Nightlife venues MUST have radios – and have staffers trained in their use – in order to rapidly and effectively relay important information. But keep in mind that no amount of communication will be of use if there is not a set of protocols, policies, and procedures in place should trouble of any sort arise.

From responses to altercations to dealing with dress code issues, venue security staff should be able to follow a set of steps to get them from Point A to Point Z. Ideally, these policies and procedures should be contained within a manual and used as the basis of training for both new and old employees. Constant training and reiteration of policies help to build the foundation of a security staff’s base of knowledge. Along those lines, staffers should know the location of basic emergency equipment: fire extinguishers, first aid kits, breaker boxes, and emergency lighting controls. Scenario training – everything from dealing with minor injuries to handling large scale fights – and evacuation drills will help to further reinforce any security staff’s knowledge base.

Finally, developing a good working relationship with local law enforcement is of the utmost importance. All establishments should already have the local police department or state liquor agencies training their employees in ID checks and how to spot intoxicated individuals. Management should also work in tandem with local law enforcement to develop a plan and train staff in what to do during an active shooter situation. Whether meeting regularly with the local Night Life team, speaking to beat officers about recent incidents, or hiring off-duty police officers to work within a venue, frequent contact with LEOs helps to extend an establishment’s rings of security.

Nightclub incidents like the mass shooting in Orlando are still an anomaly. But one would be foolish not to try and prepare for them. Designing a security program for any venue begins with an honest discussion. Owners and managers should take a careful look at their existing security framework: do they have “concentric rings” of security, set policies and procedures, and a viable relationship with local Law Enforcement? Studying what is already in place, discussing what can be improved, and figuring how to make those improvements while still providing customers with an enjoyable night out will only help in the long run. Flaws are only a problem if they remain unfixed. At the very least, enhancing a security program will protect a venue from potential liability and keep patrons safe and happy. In a worst-case scenario, it could save many lives.

*If would like to hear a podcast version of this blog, please visit:
Nightclub Security Fundamentals

 

Dealing with gangs in nightclubs and bars

A cursory Google Search of Gangs in Nightclubs will give you a myriad of search results and as such reveal that this is indeed a serious issue that is dealt with by many bar and nightclub owners. The common thread to many of these stories is that the gangs had already set up camp within the establishment or were regular Patrons when issues arose. I have heard many people offer solutions to this particular problem, but in my experience the best and most effective way to deal with a gang problem in a venue is to prevent it from becoming a problem in the first place.

Dress Code

There is not a gang in existence that does not display its “colors” in one way or another. This is done as a form of identification both within the gang and to its rivals. It is important to note that in some circumstances a style of dress can also be a form of uniform. And that is where Dress Code comes into the equation. It is important to remember that your establishment is private property and as such you can adopt any dress code you wish. As mentioned previously on this blog, your Dress Code will dictate your crowd. An associate of mine once noted that, “People will act to the level of their dress.” This is an incredibly accurate statement. You will very rarely see people acting badly when dressed nicely. Why? Because people don’t want to ruin their nice clothes. Will there be exceptions? Always. But for the most part: nice clothes = nice behavior.

By instituting and enforcing a Dress Code you are removing the most visible (pun intended) option that gangs have in terms of identifying themselves, something that very few gangs will want to do. Remember, that if you are going to institute a Dress Code you MUST enforce it equally across all of your Patrons. If you do not, I can guarantee that you are opening yourself up to angry Patrons in the short term and lawsuits in the long run. “Out of Dress Code” means just that, regardless of whether the Patron is a college kid or the owner of the bar next door. Post the Dress Code at the door and stick to it!!!

Enforcement of Rules

I’m big on enforcing rules in any environment that has the potential for massive liability. Rules keep you, your Staff, and your Patrons safe from themselves, others, and lawsuits. Occasionally, venues will bend the rules for one reason or another and that may or may not be fine. Remember, you have to always consider the worst case scenario if you do decide to bend a rule. When it comes to removing problematic Patrons – in this case, gangs – from a venue, strict enforcement of the rules is the next step in the equation. Let’s say that a gang decides to comply with your Dress Code but when they enter the bar they constantly get into fights or harass the Staff. Enforce your rules. Fights = ejection. Harassment = ejection. Over intoxication = ejection. Not only do these things equal an ejection from the bar, they should also equal permanent expulsion from a venue. Once a few people in a group start to be denied entry to an establishment, the rest of the group will follow.

I worked with an establishment that had a few problem Patrons. These Patrons would generally behave well, but their “friends” would regularly start fights. The establishment started banning the troublemaking “friends”, but the regulars would always bring new friends or cousins or brothers. What did the establishment do? They 86’ed the problem Patrons with a very simple explanation, “Your friends ALWAYS cause trouble and unfortunately we are going to have to deny you entry.” The Patrons were not happy with the decision, but the bar didn’t have any more issues. Remember YOU HAVE THE RIGHT TO REFUSE SERVICE TO ANYONE.*

Law Enforcement

What if you have enforced Dress Code and your Rules, but still have a problem with gang members in your bar? Well, for one, if they are well-behaved and well-dressed, it doesn’t sound like you have a gang problem. But for the sake of argument, let’s say your well-dressed, well-behaved gang members are just plain intimidating your customers. If they have been willing to comply up to this point, have a direct talk with them and let them know what the issues are. Should this go no where, a very direct response is to involve Law Enforcement.

I am not talking about threatening to “call the cops” or “file a report”. Act in more subtle and effective ways. Let the police department know that you believe you have gang members in your bar and you would appreciate some advice on dealing with them. Next, ask law enforcement to do a nightly walkthrough of the bar. IF you are dealing with gang members who are involved in illegal activity, seeing police officers several times a night will definitely make them want to switch locales. Another option is to hire off-duty police officers to work your security. Known gang members will NOT want to be around off-duty police officers. The rules in your particular State regarding hiring of off-duty police should absolutely be consulted before you take this step.

THE LAST RESORT

If you somehow find yourself ignored by law enforcement or they don’t see the issue as major and you have exhausted all of your other avenues…CLOSE THE VENUE. It seems like a drastic step, but if you are already losing money and clientele, a short closure (2-4 weeks) can’t be much worse, right? During that time, reformat the bar: new dress codes, new rules, new seating arrangements, and if necessary: all new Staff. You need to hire people who are on board with your Zero Tolerance towards gangs stance. When you re-open, you must state in no uncertain terms, that the individuals who were frequenting the bar previously ARE NOT WELCOME. Period. End of Conversation.

Dealing with any unwanted Patrons is a matter of cautious patience. You must be very aware of your attitude and technique as the wrong approach can land you in very hot legal water. Take your time, figure out what the problem with your unwanted guests actually is (dress code violations, rule breaking, intimidation, etc.) and take a slow, measured approach.

Until next time…

*More on this in the next post!

Pre-Attack Indicators

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

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

FIGHT OR FLIGHT

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

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

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

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

PRE-ATTACK INDICATORS

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Until next time…

Denying Nightclub Entry

There are two basic realities when doing business in the Club world: Not everyone can get into your establishment and not everyone should be allowed into your establishment. There will always be times when someone is denied entrance to your club, for any number of reasons. The fact is that there are basic rules and regulations that need to be followed in regards to admission.

The problems usually start when your “rules” don’t fit with what is legally acceptable. Arbitrary refusal of service is illegal. However, if the Patrons’ behavior (e.g. flashing gang signs) or dress (as in wearing “gang colors”) detract from the safety, well being, or welfare of the other customers or the establishment itself, refusal of service is legitimate. (Local laws vary and as such you should know what they are and how they apply to you.)

There are situations and circumstances which are universal to establishments that serve alcohol. Here are some hints on how to deal with them.

1) UNDER AGE PATRONS – The legal age for consumption of alcohol in the United States is 21. Period. Unless your establishment is running an “All Ages” or “18+” night, this law never changes. So don’t let underage drinkers in. Ever. Period.

2) OVER INTOXICATION – The hardest thing for any establishment to do is strike the very precarious balance between selling alcohol and keeping their Patrons at a “safe” level of sobriety. Your Door Staff are really the first line of defense when it comes to keeping your place of business at the “safe” level. Allowing an intoxicated individual into your establishment not only increases your liability, but increases the risk of altercations and accidents. In many states, the final establishment an intoxicated individual frequented may be held liable for the actions of that individual once they leave. Car crash? Fight? They can lead back to you and your bartenders.

Sometimes it is as simple as telling an overly-intoxicated individual that they’ve had too much to drink and you cannot allow them in. But more often than not this will elicit a response of , “I am NOT drunk.”, which will lead into a circular conversation that goes nowhere. Many Doormen will tell overly-intoxicated Patrons to “come back in an hour”. It often works, as by the time an hour has passed the Patron will either have forgotten the invitation, found another place to drink, or passed out. But you do run the risk of the Patron returning.

The easiest solution I’ve found is to offer free passes or drink tickets for the next time the intoxicated Patron comes to your establishment.  This will show that you do want their business…just not tonight.  Outright rejection is never easy for anyone to take and denial of entrance  couched with an invitation to return at another time helps to ease the blow.

3) DRESS CODE – While we have covered this subject in detail in a previous post, there are a couple of things I’d like to touch on in regards to Dress Code. First off, besides intoxicated Patrons, individuals who do not pass Dress Code are going to be the majority of the rejections at your Front Door. And, most of these individuals will take offense when told that they will not be let in based on how they are dressed. Often, “not passing dress code” is taken to mean that the individual is sloppy or low-class. In reality, this is far from the truth. Dress Codes are implemented to give clubs a look, draw a specific clientele, or for special events. Dress Code can be ugly Xmas sweaters for a party, button down shirts and dress pants on Friday nights, or vests and riding boots in a motorcycle bar. The key is to let your Patrons know what the appropriate Dress is before they wait in line.

Always post your dress code. On your website, on the front door, at the entrance to any lines. It should list exactly what items of clothing are prohibited. Ultimately, the goal is to educate your Patrons so they know what to expect when they are preparing for a night in your establishment. In the same vein, your Doormen should know to be polite and apologetic when denying entrance for Dress Code. Explaining to Patrons why they cannot enter is always better than an outright rejection. Have your Door Staff prepared to answer all questions regarding Dress Code with an explanation.

“Why dress shirts and pants?” – We run a promotion every Saturday we call ‘Business Casual’. It’s like a costume party, but with stylish clothes. But we relax the Dress Code on Fridays if you’d like to come back. (If your dress code is always business casual, you can state that the look for the club is “upscale”)

“Why no open-toed shoes?” – We don’t want to risk anyone cutting their feet should their be broken glass on the floor. We want you to be safe.

“Why no athletic jerseys?” – Unfortunately, we’ve had some problems with rival teams’ fans starting altercations. On Sundays we allow jerseys during games.

Again, educating the customer will let them know what is or is not allowed. With enough time and “education” most people will know what the Dress Code is for your establishment.

4)  UNRULY CUSTOMERS – The most difficult and often most dangerous Patrons to deal with are those who are acting unruly before they even enter. Being rude to others in line, pushing or shoving their friends (or other Patrons), skipping in line, or just plain being abrasive, there is a good chance that the behavior of these Patrons will deteriorate once they enter and start drinking (or drink more than they already have). It is EXTREMELY important that when dealing with these individuals your Door Staff be patient and always have back-up.

While there is no easy way to turn these Patrons away, one approach that works well is for the Door Staff to “deflect” the blame. The Doorman can state that his boss “…believes that your group is too intoxicated to be let in.” Again, when preceded with an apology, “I’m sorry but…”, it is easy for the Staffer to play the “I’m just following orders” card. This technique works even better if the group sees an individual (it can even be another Staffer) speaking to the Doorman just prior to their arriving at the Front Door. The “manager” can then step inside, out of the group’s eyesight and “unavailable” to talk.

Is this approach sneaky? Yes. But if applied by a patient and apologetic Door Staffer, it can work wonders.

Remember, the key to Denial of Entry is to educate the Patron. Not condescend, not insult, not anger, but EDUCATE. Let them know WHY they can’t come in and how much you want for them to return another time. Heck, you’ll even buy them a drink!

Until next time…

Post-Work Debriefing

The bar has been cleared, the tables put away, the equipment stowed. Time to go home, right?

Not so fast…

Regardless of how tired you are, there is one item of business that should be taken care of: The Post-Work Debriefing. This is an important part of the night from both a personal and professional standpoint. On a personal level, you want to make sure that you and your Security Staff are doing well. On a professional level, you want to make sure that your Security Staffers are happy. How do find out if they are doing well and are happy? Ask.

The Head of Security should always run the Post-Work Debrief. This way, all information is relayed directly, not second or third hand. It is not absolutely necessary for the Manager to be involved, as he/she should be meeting with the H.O.S. after the Post-work Debrief anyway.

TOPICS OF DISCUSSION:

  • EQUIPMENT – Anything broken, faulty, or gone missing? This is the time to report the problem and take note. Too often broken radios are placed back into their chargers without any notification. Need batteries/stanchions/clickers? Speak up!
  • INCIDENTS – Though ALL incidents should be reported as they occur, minor incidents (doors left open, Staff disputes, Law Enforcement chats) are often forgotten UNLESS you talk about them the same night. Make sure to ask your crew if they had any incidents and talk about them. If necessary, incident reports can be written up at this time. On numerous occasions I have asked how the night went and been deluged by incidents that no one had bothered to mention.
  • PERFORMANCE CONCERNS – The Head of Security should use some of this time to point out any issues or concerns regarding the Staff in general. Are people moving from their posts without notification? Incorrect Radio protocol? Bring it up and hash it out.
  • UPCOMING EVENTS – Remind the crew of any and all upcoming events, whether the next night, next week, or next month. It helps to plant a seed in their head and preps them for what is to come. No one likes to show up to work and be surprised with the news that the club is booked for a group of MMA fighters with an open bar, a fraternity social, or ten tables of bachelorette parties.
  • STAFFING ISSUES – If the Security Staff is having problems with non-Security Staff employees, this is the time to air those grievances. Having problems with the Promoter? Bartenders allowing their friends to stay after Last Call? Talk about it. An informed H.O.S. can pass this information on to the Manager. THIS IS NOT THE TIME TO GRIPE ABOUT OTHER MEMBERS OF YOUR SECURITY STAFF. Any intra-Security Staff concerns should be voiced directly to the H.O.S. separate from other workers.

These meetings serve as a good outlet for your Security Staff. They bring issues to light and often elicit remarks or suggestions that might not normally be conveyed. It generates conversation and communication, two things that are key to running a tight ship. The more you and your co-workers talk about the work environment and its issues, the better the chances that these issues will be taken care of in a prompt manner.

Until next time…

Nightly Reports

The night is winding down, the last of the Patrons has walked (or wobbled) out the door, the Bar Staff is cleaning up…time to go home, right? Wrong. Unfortunately, it is time to confront our good friend the Paperwork Monster once again! But fear not, this encounter should be quick, easy, and ultimately, helpful.

The Nightly Report is like a report card for your Security Staff. It includes notes on any Incidents, your hourly door count, equipment breakage, and any and all other “events” that may have occurred between opening and closing. Ultimately, it is a great way of keeping track of what is going on in the bar, in paperwork form.

Any written format will work (template or freehand document), but every Nightly Report should contain the following:

DAY & DATE – How else are you going to know when the report was filed?

MANAGER & H.O.S. Names – This is important as a quick reference should you need to gather information for an Incident Report.

WEATHER – Another quick reference should you wonder why there was no crowd in your bar (i.e. “-25 degrees and snowing”).

INCIDENTS – This is NOT the same as an Incident Report! It is a note to remind the H.O.S./Manager/Zone Leads to double check that they have completed all of the night’s Incident Reports. It is also helpful as a notation for the number of Incidents that took place (i.e. 5 fights) This grouped with a weather note (95 degrees and hot) can sometimes help you to figure out why there where so many incidents.

EQUIPMENT BREAKAGE – Write down anything that broke or was broken (by Patrons or Staff). This can include walkie-talkies, tables, sinks, etc.

HOURLY DOOR COUNT – Every establishment should know it’s capacity. This is usually tracked through the use of clickers or ID Scanners. If you are using clickers, an hourly Door Count can help you track your rushes, dead times, and the overall ebb and flow of Patrons. When used in conjunction with Weather and Notes, it can paint a picture of why the night was slow, busy, or so-so. If your club is using ID Scanners, they should give you an hourly breakdown! If not, buy another scanner.

NOTES – Pretty straightforward. Jot down anything from the vibe of the crowd and the attitude of the Staff, to who was missing from the work shift. Another part of the paper trail should you have Incidents or need to discipline a Staffer.

END OF NIGHT CHECKLIST – When does the music get turned off? Who takes out the garbage? Who clears the stanchions? Not surprisingly, many of these things are “overlooked” by Staff at the end of the night. This checklist will ensure that everything is done. If there is a closing job responsibility for Security Staff, put it on the list.

SIGNATURES – The list needs to be signed by acting H.O.S. and Manager once everything is said and done. Nothing like a little accountability to keep people honest.

While some find the Nightly Report redundant, it is always nice to have an extra piece of paper to back you up in case of Incidents, equipment breakage, or Staffing issues. Create a Nightly Report that conforms to the needs of your club, you might be surprised at the amount of information you glean from it.

’til next time…..

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

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

SIT DOWN, DON’T FALL DOWN…

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

WHAT IS AN INCIDENT?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

INCIDENT PROTOCOL

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

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

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

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

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

INCIDENT REPORTS

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

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

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

A place of Witness Information

Date/Time/Place of Incident

Staff Involved

Description of Incident

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

Until next time…