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Security in Bars, Taverns, and Nightclubs

In many parts of countries around the world, the neighborhood bar provides a location for friends to gather. Taverns and restaurants offer patrons a place to drink and dine. Nightclubs offer a high energy atmosphere that combines dancing and the consumption of alcohol. Hotels, motels, and entertainment complexes often contain bars, taverns, restaurants and nightclubs. For the purpose of brevity in this article; bars, taverns, restaurants and nightclubs will be referred to as bars.

Security measures protect people and property from threats and dangerous conditions. This protection extends to all parts of the premises which the patron or employee may be reasonably expected to go and to those parts of the premises that the business has reasonably led them to believe they can go. Bars have a responsibility to provide reasonable protection to patrons and employees on the premises.

Security in Bars, Taverns, & Nightclubs

There are many threats to safety that may occur at a bar. The possibility of death and injury due to fire is an important issue that has to be effectively addressed. Proper policies and procedures should be established for the safe evacuation of all the occupants on the premises. Bars will have a large amount of cash on the premises. Liquor bottles may be stolen. Employees may be assaulted during a robbery or theft of liquor. Bottles and drink glasses could be used as weapons not only during a robbery or theft; but during a fight between patrons or an assault of an employee. In some circumstances, an employee can effectively handle a disruptive patron by using verbal and nonverbal (physical actions and demeanor) skills to diffuse the situation. An effective method is asking a disruptive patron to leave the bar. If the patron refuses, advise the patron that he/she has the opportunity to leave on their own or the police will be contacted to remove them from premises. Employees should be properly trained in the policies and procedures established by the bar to address the aforementioned threats and improper behavior that may occur on the premises.

Assaultive behavior can occur between patrons. Managers, waiters, waitresses, and bartenders may be assaulted by intoxicated or combative patrons. An employee policy should be in place identifying when the police and/or management should be contacted when there are violent or disruptive patrons. If security personnel are on site, the employee policy should identify when security personnel should be contacted.

Consumption of alcoholic beverages by everyone working for the bar during their work hours should be prohibited.

Security Personnel

Bars, taverns, restaurants, and nightclubs are usually the busiest on Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays. Most assaults occur on weekend nights. If assaultive behavior is foreseeable on the property, security personnel should be employed. Security personnel in bars are often referred to as bouncers, doormen, and floor men. The role of security personnel is to protect people and property. This responsibility includes patrons and employees.

The hiring, training and supervision of security personnel is an important aspect of providing effective security. One of the best methods of crime prevention is the obvious presence of security personnel. It is essential that security personnel be recognizable and conspicuous.

Proprietary and Contract Security

Security personnel can be proprietary or contracted. Proprietary security personnel, also known as in-house security, are employees controlled by the company that is providing security for its facilities and other property. They receive instruction and supervision from their employer. Contract security personnel are employed by an outside security firm. They provide security services to a business customer, but are managed by the contracted security firm.

Hiring of Security Personnel

Hiring of applicants should take place after a reasonable background check is conducted. This responsibility is one of the most important priorities for security management. The background check often includes requirements identified by a governmental entity. A business’s responsibility to its patrons is to provide effective security through proper hiring practices. The hiring of security applicants is a critical part of establishing and maintaining an effective security force.

Training of Security Personnel

Security personnel should be adequately trained prior to beginning, and continue to be trained once employed. If a security guard is required to be licensed by the city and/or state where he/she works, the security guard should be licensed. The importance of training cannot be overstated.

Adequately trained security personnel are essential to achieve management’s goal for employees to properly perform their duties. What management wants and how management wants it done is reflected in the training of security personnel. Without the proper response of the appropriate employees, the security measures in place are often ineffective with respect to the safety and security of the patrons and employees of a business. Security personnel should know what their responsibilities are and how to properly carry them out. By security personnel being properly trained, their actions will be in compliance to the policies and procedures of the business.

The importance of employees following proper training is essential to a proper response. Security personnel, not assigned to a stationary post, will move throughout the premises and observe patrons for reasonable behavior while they patronize a business establishment. It should be remembered that security personnel have the same rights as a private citizen. When appropriate, reasonable force should be used by security personnel. If two or more patrons are involved in a fight, they should be removed from the premises. An effective method is to eject the more aggressive patron or group of patrons first and wait until they vacate the area of the premises before ejecting the more passive patron or group of patrons.

Monitoring Performance of Security Personnel

The management of security personnel should be delegated to a knowledgeable and competent individual who understands the required safety and security responsibilities of the business. If the security personnel are contracted personnel, there remains a responsibility by the business owner or manager to monitor their performance. This responsibility can include assessment of contract employee performance, response of contractor management to the bar owner’s or manager’s concerns, and training. It is important to ensure the contractor is meeting contractual standards, but direct supervision of contract security should be carried out by the management of the contractor. When there is an issue involving contract security personnel, the bar owner or manager should communicate their concern through the management of the contractor.

The responsibility for supervising security guard performance should be executed by someone who moves throughout the premises. Security personnel should be properly hired, trained and managed. When security personnel’s actions are improper, it may be attributed to inadequate hiring, training, and/or supervision.

An effective strategy of controlling assaultive behavior is to position a security guard/security personnel at bar entrances and exits. This will control access into the building by confirming a patron is the proper age to enter and is in compliance with bar policy for entrance into the building. Additionally, the actions of patrons outside the front door and inside by the front door can be monitored. Crowding around the bar and on the dance floor creates the risk of patrons accidentally bumping into each other. This can lead to fights between patrons. These are areas of the premises which may need to be monitored if assaultive behavior is foreseeable on the property.

Bar security is important for the patrons and employees of the bar. It is essential that all workers on site are properly trained in the policies and procedures of the bar. An effective response to a threat, dangerous condition or improper behavior is required.

Donald Decker

EXPERT WITNESS BIOGRAPHY

Don is a Certified Protection Professional with a career that includes over 40 years as a security guard, state trooper, liability and fraud investigator, and private detective.

Don analyzes issues involving security guards and companies, police officers and departments, and premises owners and managers. These issues include hiring and training, policies and procedures, use of force, crime foreseeability, and adequacy of security measures. Don has additional expertise in the areas of insurance investigations and building security. In cases involving insurance claims, he is able to review investigations as they may relate to claims of fraud or liability issues. In building security cases involving criminal actions, he assesses the actions of the owners, managers, and the security measures present.

Don has a B.S. in Criminal Justice, and is a member of ASIS International.

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