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

 

Date Rape Drugs

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

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

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

The three most common Date Rape drugs are:

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

Their effects are similar and basic:

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

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

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

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

ASK QUESTIONS AND COMMUNICATE

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

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

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

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

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

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

Happy New Year!

Goodbye, 2015. And hello, 2016! We hope that your year ended well and that the year to come is a healthy and prosperous one.

While we would usually not look back, I find it fitting that this New Year’s Eve video is currently making the rounds. Many of my formative years working Security were spent in the doorway of a nightclub. Looking back on some of those adventures, I only wish that I’d been able to record the interactions that took place. I have to hand it to this bouncer for taking the initiative and doing that very thing. Not only that, but he does his job well and – as far as I can tell – makes it home safely at the end of the night.

For those of you who wonder what it is like to be a bouncer in a club or who don’t realize the constant stream of characters that they have to deal with on a regular basis, here you go. For those of you who look at nightclub security staff with disdain, this might help to give you an idea of the work that they do EVERY NIGHT, and why the job is far more difficult than it appears. Remember, security staffers are people too; so please treat them with some respect!

Another night on the Door

Bouncer Fails…

Not every night that you work the Door is going to be slow and lazy. More often than not you will encounter a situation that tests your limits or forces you to act quickly and decisively. And once in a rare while you will be placed in a possibly life-threatening situation. There are a myriad of scenarios that can occur during the course of your shift, but your approach to each should be consistent, patient, and attentive.

This video clip is an excellent example of how lax attention can have a possibly deadly outcome. We could break the video down second by second, but instead we can look at the major mistakes made.

Mistake #1 – Lack of Distance

From the very beginning, the Doorman is too close to the Patron. Any Patron, regardless of state of sobriety or perceived intent, should be kept at least arm’s distance from you at all times. Many Security Staffers close the gap through what might be considered “posturing”. They think that getting up close might intimidate the person they are dealing with. In reality, this may be seen as an aggressive move and can lead to unnecessary escalation. It also puts you as a Staffer in a serious danger zone.

Creating space between you and a Patron allows you room to move, a clearer view of the Patron’s entire body, and an opening to defend yourself. It also lets the Patron know that you are not crowding them or getting into their personal space, which can help to relax them if they are getting worked up.

Mistake #2 – Busy hands

You should never have your hands occupied with anything other than what you need to do your job while talking to a Patron. Cellphones, cigarettes, cups… not acceptable. These are distractions and occupy important space – namely your hand(s). Should you have to defend yourself, grab something, or move someone, it will be very difficult with something in your hands.

The Doorman not only smokes a cigarette during this entire encounter, but he even places one hand in his pocket while smoking! How does he expect to defend himself?

Mistake #3 – Forgetting the Buddy System

While not always possible, it is HIGHLY recommended that you be in the presence of another Staffer during any encounter you have with a Patron. This not only ensures that you have physical backup should things turn ugly, but also provides you with a witness should anything go awry. There is a reason that every field of Security prefers to work with multiple Staffers: SAFETY IN NUMBERS. You should always have +1 person in relation to the situation you are dealing with. 1 Patron = 2 Staffers, 2 Patrons = 3 Staffers, etc.

When the Doorman’s “backup” finally does arrive, he spends his time dealing with another customer and not trying to figure out what is going on in the situation to his immediate left. As a matter of fact, the distraction that he causes in dealing with the 2nd Patron allows the 1st Patron to pull his knife and stab both himself and the Doorman.

Mistake #4 – Lack of Situational Awareness

You need to be aware of your surroundings, who is in them, and what they are doing AT ALL TIMES. That does not mean that you have to engage everyone and everything. But it does mean that you need to be paying attention. ALWAYS. This Doorman not only fails to keep correct distance and has his hands busy, but he TURNS AWAY from the individual he is addressing. In addition, although the main “threat” the Doorman is dealing with is directly in front of him, he turns to deal with other Patrons twice. Never turn away from an individual. Never. Especially one who is intoxicated and attempting to gain access to your establishment.

The fact that the Doorman does not want this particular Patron in the club means that he should focus his attention on the Patron. Period. While minor distractions can and will occur, the Patron in front of you is your point of focus. Ask yourself, “Why won’t he back up when asked?” “Why does this Patron have a hand in his pocket?” Simple questions that should be running through your head at all times.

Keep in mind that being Situationally Aware is NOT the same as being paranoid. If you are paying fearful attention to something that does not exist, you are being paranoid. Acknowledging what is going on around you without attaching some type of negative connotation to it is being aware.

Stay aware and stay safe.

Until next time…

Executive Protection in a Nightclub Environment

While the main area of discussion here on the Tao of the Velvet Rope is Nightclub Security, Coast Executive Services finds it important to examine aspects of Security that relate to a variety of subject matters within the Nightclub Environment. To that end, we welcome Guest Writers to submit articles in order to share their experiences and expand our knowledge base. This month’s guest writer is Executive Protection Specialist Kevin Ghee.

EXIT STRATEGY by Kevin Ghee

One of the more dangerous things I’ve found when escorting a Client is the moment when you egress a nightclub environment. For one, you are blind. Meaning that unless you have a multi-member team and you send one of those members to survey outside the club before you leave, you have no clue as to what’s going on outside. In those moments you should be very careful in your movements.

One of the ways I like to work when I’m operating as a solo protector is to use Club Security. If you know at which club your Client wants to party for the evening and the time and resources permit, you must do an Advance of said club. Get to know the establishment’s Head of Security during the Advance. Let him know that you’ll be coming back that evening, and arrange for privileged/VIP parking. I say this because if it’s a very popular establishment, then a lot of locals may attend that club weekly and have developed more of a rapport with the Security Staff than you. They may take up all of the VIP parking, so you should definitely try to secure parking.

Check for a Safe Room in the event a ruckus breaks out. “But that never happens in a club so you’ll be fine!”, some might say. Believe that if you want to. Also, find the VIP section in which your Client will be sitting and walk the route from where you’ll park to where you’re ending up. More than likely it’ll be very crowed once you return. I was just in Las Vegas with a Client and my Advance had to be done while he was still in the SUV, protected by the limo tint and the fact that no one knew he was in the car.

During my Advance I met the Head of Security, who was already aware that my Client would be arriving. I asked him to show me where we would be sitting. He escorted me along this long hallway…and around the back of the DJ booth…and to the VIP section, which of course, was full of people. I asked him to clear the VIP prior to me bringing in my Client. We then walked out of the VIP section and to the front door via a different, shorter route. That was the route I ensured would be cleared and that we would take upon my return.

The point is this: use the Security on staff and try to be in control of as much as you can. You’ll find that the Security, most times, will be more than happy to assist you. In clubs where the VIP section cannot be blocked off or there is more than one entrance, try to have a club Security Staffer present to stop unwanted guests from entering as you take a position close to your Principal.

Fast forward…now your Client is ready to leave. Please – very important – confirm that you have the Driver’s cell number and that he has yours. This is critical, in that if you need to make a hasty exit and the Driver – for whatever reason – had to move the vehicle and is not in VIP parking, you’ll find yourself exposed. You never know what’s going on outside. The disgruntled guy who was put out or who was denied access may be outside ready to exact his revenge just as you want to exit with your Client. I usually have the Client tell me ten minutes prior to wanting to leave so I can call the Driver and have him bring the car up. I then tell the Driver to call or text me that he’s “…in front of the Door” which we will be exiting.

Escorting to a club can be very stress free if you’ve planned properly in advance. Leaving the club can be a gamble. Again, get to know the Security and learn the layout as soon as you arrive. One thing I forgot to mention: find out where the bathrooms are. There’s nothing like trying to find the bathroom in a crowded, unfamiliar nightclub.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

545251_4541725853671_676455005_nKevin Ghee is an Executive Protection Specialist with over 15 years experience in the field. He has worked with numerous athletes, celebrities, and entertainers, as well as Fortune 100 clients. He served as a Team Leader for the 2012 Democratic National Convention, as well as for the Santa Barbara International Film Festival. He can be reached at: kjghee@aol.com.

*If you would like to submit an article, please contact us: coastexec@gmail.com

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…

10-4, Little Buddy…or How To Use A Radio In A Nightclub

“Breaker 1-9, there’s a Smokey in a plain white wrapper at your back door, so you better put the hammer down.”

If you just read that sentence and did not understand it, that’s a good thing. Why? Because you should not be using a CB radio for anything work related unless you are a trucker.

However, there is a proper protocol for radio use in the nightclub environment. And it is this protocol, along with good situational awareness, that can help prevent any number of disasters from occurring or safe your butt when you need it most.

WHY RADIOS?

Let us first address the issue of communications in general. An open, clear line of communication is essential in any environment where one needs to transmit information over large distances or where an individual is not within the sight line of another individual. This helps to promote safety, decrease liability, and add another layer of situational awareness. Radios allow Staffers and Management to keep tabs on each other, warn one another of potentially dangerous situations, and ask pertinent questions.

Every nightclub should have a set of radios, preferably a radio and headset for each Security Staffer as well as one of the Bar Manager. Depending on the size of your establishment you may want to consider equipping each of your Bars, your Hostesses, your VIP Host, and even your Cocktail Waitresses with their own set up. At the very least, your Doorman and Head of Security should be wired up, as well as a Roamer. It will help keep people in touch and in case of emergency, allow them to transmit valuable information about any incidents taking place.

TYPES OF RADIOS

You want to pick radios that are light, have multiple channels (at least 5), and contain quick-recharging batteries. I will not push a particular brand of radio. As they say, “Different strokes for different folks.” And I won’t get into the relative merits of VHF vs. UHF radios. For that you can look at this link. But I can say through personal experience that Motorola makes a solid line of radios and I haven’t had any issues using them.

STORAGE

Radios should be kept in one safe, secure location. Preferably this is an office with a lockable door. This will prevent unwanted access and make it easy for Staffers to get to their gear should they need a replacement earpiece or radio. I would suggest one or two radios kept as backup as well as several spare (charged!) batteries. It is also a good idea to have a sign out sheet with the gear. One Staffer may be in charge of sign in/sign out as well as making sure that the radios and batteries are plugged in at the end of the night.

RADIO USE & ETIQUETTE

To begin with, everyone gets excited when they get a radio and an earpiece. For some reason, Staffers suddenly feel like James Bond or a Secret Service agent when they first put on the gear. And very quickly, they realize that the earpieces get uncomfortable, it is often hard to hear in a crowded, noisy club, and that radios make your pants sag (hint: wear a good belt). Another realization that Staffers come to is that they have no idea how to actually USE a radio correctly.

Some basic rules for radio use:

Consistency is important!  Everyone communicating in the same way reduces mistakes. That means everyone talks using the same codes in the same manner. More on that in a second.

Pay attention. Just because your name or location wasn’t spoken DOES NOT mean that the communication isn’t important to you. The message may indicate special instructions needed in your area.

Avoid stepping on other transmissions. Allow the speaker(s) to finish their transmission before speaking.

Channel Use – Depending on the size of your club, each department/section/job should have their own designated Channel. It could  look something like this:

Channel 1 – Security

Channel 2 – Front of House (Management/Hostess)

Channel 3 – Bar/Waitresses

This cuts down on radio interference and chatter and makes it easy for people to switch back and forth depending on who they need to talk to.

Radio Silence – Good radio etiquette demands that all users limit their communication to essential radio calls only. Unless you have something important to say…don’t talk. That means no idle chit chat. Which means no discussions about the young lady/young man at the back of the line or that evening’s basketball score.

How to Speak – Hold down your PTT button (push to talk) for 1 or 2 seconds before talking. Most radios will cut you off if you begin to speak immediately. When you do speak, you want to keep your messages brief and to the point. For one, it lessens the chances that someone will misunderstand what you are saying. And second, it keeps conversation to the bare minimum.

1) Announce yourself. State your name and then the name of the  person to whom you are directing your call (i.e. “Mike for Jerry.”)

2) Wait for acknowledgement, “Go ahead Mike.”

…and then state your message.

Radio Codes/Slang – There are differing opinions on the use of “coding” in radio transmissions. For example, “Code Red, Front Patio” or “Blue to Section 3”. In stressful situations, it is difficult for individuals to remember a list of codes for different types of emergencies in different locations, unless they have been trained regularly in the use of these codes. That being said, there are some basics that can save you trouble or misunderstanding.

Abort – Stop what you are doing or disregard that last transmission

Affirmative/Negative – Yes or No

Over – I’ve finished talking. “Do you need the chair in VIP? Over.”

Out – I’ve finished talking and don’t expect a reply. “I will take care of that immediately. Out.”

Go Ahead – Send your transmission. “This is Mike, go ahead.”

Say Again – Repeat your message. “Say again Mike.”

Copy/Roger – It helps the transmitter to know that someone actually got their message. Copy/Roger can be used as a confirmation. (“Mike, bring the trashcan to the 2nd floor.” “Copy that.”)

20 – Location. “What’s your 20?”

Words to Avoid – Oops, What, Huh, Yep, Oh God!, Wait a sec…,Yeah, Are you there?, Got it. The main reason to avoid these is that they serve no purpose whatsoever. Again, don’t waste airspace.

In Case of Emergency – Keep the transmissions short and to the point. It is also VERY important to not yell out what the emergency is in order to avoid what could be a possible panic situation (i.e. a fire). If you are dealing with an out of control altercation or are in immediate physical danger, the easiest way to ask for assistance is to announce your location 3 TIMES (“Dance Floor! Dance Floor! Dance Floor!”) This tells everyone where they need to head.

Radios are one of the most useful tools that you have as a Security Staffer. Train your crew how and when to use them and make sure that everyone know the rules of use before they begin wearing a radio. If necessary, correct improper usage (I suggest after a shift) and teach your crew the radio etiquette that will work best for your location.

Until next time…