Emerging Issues in Security

The Need for More Training for Bar Bouncers and Nightclub Security

Just hiring the biggest body builder in the local gym to work security at the door of a bar or nightclub is not the preferred way to create a safe environment for patrons and staff. Bouncers, door staff, and inside security people need classroom training before they can do their work legally and effectively.

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Robert C. Smith, a retired San Diego Police detective and CEO and president of Nightclub Security Consultants, a San Diego-CA-based security staff training and consulting firm to the bar, night club, and hospitality industries, offers his views on the biggest security challenges bar and nightclub owners face:

“The threat of a fight erupting or a minor trying to get a drink has been a challenge forever and is still present today. However, two emerging threats surround the fear, real or not, of a gun in the bar and violence from female guests. The industry as a whole focused on gun violence in clubs and bars after the Pulse Nightclub mass shooting in Orlando. Gun use in and around clubs and bars is rising at a fast rate and has increased over the past 10 years. However, on a large, national scale, the use of guns at a bar is still very rare. Another issue is that clubs try to stay away from pat downs or using metal detectors due to the guest perception that any place conducting a good door search of guests must be a dangerous place. This isn’t really true, but operators adjust a lot of their business based on guest perceptions.

“The second threat of increased violence from female guests is a very unique issue. Women are becoming more independent, showing they are every bit a man’s equal, and as a natural process, are getting involved or starting more bar or club fights.”

Smith discusses his biggest challenge when training bouncers: “Getting them to open their mind that there are many possible ways to handle situations and that there may be other people, like me, that can help them truly understand their duties and responsibilities. Providing maximum customer service at the door and on the floor is a way to proactively find bad guys and deal with them early. Teaching them to write a good report after a violent incident is huge. Many bouncers and other security professionals can’t write very well and don’t have the guidance or help to get them to understand the value of a report that, when written well, could save their venue hundreds of thousands of dollars in a civil lawsuit.

“Finally, the largest challenge and hurdle is getting the bouncers’ managers and club owners to realize that adding two or more extra guards can prevent so many problems in the club or bar.”

Smith continues, “This is a multi-billion-dollar industry with millions of liquor licenses nationwide. People drink when they are happy and drink when they are sad. There will be no downtime for the hospitality industry. One natural constant for any international or domestic terrorist will be to continue to target the hospitality industry. To date, we’ve had very few successful targets of American bars or clubs. This is going to change and I think very strongly that we will see both vehicles as mechanized weapons and firearms used against bars and clubs and we, as a society, can’t stop that.”