RIP – Lou Ferrin was a bouncer. He was 40 years old, engaged, had children and was expecting his first grandchild in February. He was stabbed in the neck as he walked out a disruptive guest from the bar he was hired to protect.
When I was younger I got kicked out of a bar for arguing over a game of pool. The bouncers and the bartender walked me to the door. Once outside, the bouncers stood there staring at me with some threatening “I dare you to try something” looks. I walked away, mumbling under my breath that I’d kick their asses… as I was walking away.
As a police officer and as a liability consultant I’ve seen dozens, maybe hundreds of people asked to leave bars and clubs. Most left without much fuss while others needed some persuading by the bouncers or police, but at the end of the night, they left to come back another night.
Now, there have been those rare exceptions, few times really, when the drunk guest just wouldn’t leave and would take a swing or actually hit the bouncer or other bar employee. This guy got his licks in but normally ended up just getting a beat down by other employees or even guests who felt obligated to help the employee.
Something very scary has happened over the past several years in our industry, the hospitality industry. More of our staff are being killed at the hands of angry guests, over-intoxicated guests or just guests who don’t understand the consequence of their actions.
RIP – Marcel Jackson was a bouncer. He was a father of six a community volunteer. He had walked out a guest who hit a female in the club earlier in the night. The patron returned later and as shot Marcel in the back in “drive by” fashion.
Over the past year I have asked officials from the United States Department of Justice, The FBI, the Bureau of Labor Statistics and every other office I could think of about the perceived issue or the factual issue of an increased number of bar and club employees being killed by guests. All the offices told me they see no increase or trend. However, when asked how they capture this type of violence, this type of homicide, they all told me they have no job specific capture mechanism for bouncers or club security.
This point really puzzled me. See, if your car is broken into while you sleep or if you’re injured in a car accident or if you’re robbed at gunpoint the cops take a report. That report is processed and the activity is tallied at every level; city, county, state and federal levels. There are stat’s kept for nearly every type of crime, but there is nothing to track if club or bar employee is assaulted or killed. Pretty strange, when so many officials want to pile every nighttime evil on our industry and the service of alcohol.
The hospitality industry is a billion dollar industry that supplies jobs to millions. One of those jobs is that of the in house security guard or Bouncer. Many times their profession is considered a necessary evil and during the planning stages of new bars or clubs, the guards or bouncers are the last hired or even considered as part of the operation.
RIP – Cameron Eubanks was a manager / bouncer. He was 20 years old and was taking over his fathers business operations. Cameron walked out a guest for arguing with another employee. Outside, the guest obtained his handgun and returned to the bar, killing Cameron and two others.
When I train or provide convention seminars I have a reputation of speaking pretty freely about what I believe. So, let’s look at this realistically. The bouncer is hired to keep the employees, the guests, the owner’s property and the community safe. They are asked to step in between angry females and asked to stop three men who are fighting. They’re asked to walk out drunks and expected to keep the drunks from coming in. For all of this, most bouncers are paid minimum wage and have no benefits to speak of.
The door host, door man, floor walker, the liquid ambassador or whatever other name you choose to drape them with is hired to do what owners, managers, bartenders and wait staff can’t or don’t want to do. They are just like cops in your neighborhood. Your bouncers end parties, they end the fun, they tell people to stop bad behavior, they grab people, they make people leave. They put their lives in danger every night and again, are generally pad minimum wage.
RIP – Jacques Nelson was a bouncer. He was 32 years old and leaves 4 children behind. He was trying to break up a fight in his bars parking lot when one of the combatants pulled a gun and shot him.
Have our guests really become more violent? Why has violence increased? Are there certain types of guests who are more likely to become violent? Are there tells or signs that someone is going to be violent? What can the small or large operator do to combat the increased violence? These are some pretty broad questions but they have to be confronted. If we don’t ask these questions and try to find answers, well, more are going to die.
In my opinion, our guests have become more violent. I think there are several factors that have led to this point and honestly; I believe it’s going to get worse on several fronts. Although there are no perfect answers, what follows are a few short points to consider.
- Over intoxication of our guests. There is no problem with drinking and getting a nice buzz, even getting intoxicated. However, when the guest is irrational and can’t make sound decisions about themselves or their actions, that’s a problem. This has to stop.
- Not taking control of your bar or club. What I mean is if you have bed behavior early, address the behavior and get the person out of the bar now. Waiting and giving the person another chance most often causes more trouble.
- Have the right number of guards on staff. I know Tuesday night is slow, but try to always have two guards instead of a single person. Give them other duties to complete but have them be there, together to watch and help each other.
- Teach your guards and all your staff that most of the time, calling the police for assistance is a good thing. Yes, save those calls for the most serious of events but staff must know that calling the police when they have that terrible or bad feeling is a good thing. This can be made easier if managers or owners have discussions with local authorities about calling for help.
RIP – Terie Colecchi was a bouncer. He was 49 years old and leaves behind his 11 year old son. Terrie was walking two guests out who arrived at closing time. Once outside, they jumped him and when he was on the ground one of the men kicked him several times in the head.
Will we remember these guys who asked to do this part time job for little money and no benefits? Sure, friends and families will remember them, but we need to remember them or, the guys just like them. Will we change the way we do things in our industry? I don’t know, but I do know that our industry is getting more violent and we have to take notice.