This is a blog piece to go along with our Nightclub Security Podcast by the same name. Please download our Podcast HERE or from iTunes by searching “Nightclub Security”.
This issue is becoming more and more relevant at an alarming rate. Club and bar violence is absolutely increasing nationally and our statistical information proves it. Along with that increased number of violent incidents comes the natural decision making process for owners and managers regarding what type of guard to use.
Our company is the nations leader in training bouncers and helping operators reduce liquor liability and lower insurance premiums. We also want operators to make the most informed decisions they can and our blog and podcast can help them do that. Read on…
THE INCIDENT – Three guests have a few drinks and after a couple hours get into a verbal argument with another group of guests. Guards hear the argument and quickly jump in to separate the groups. The manager talks to the loudest group, calms them down and allows them to stay in the venue. Within 30 minutes, the argument starts again, guards move in again and now move the guests to the door. The primary aggressors continued to argue with the guards and as they approach the front door of the venue they become violent and start fighting with the guards. The guards overpower the group and after holding them until they calmed down, the guests were allowed to walk away. As they walk away from the club they continued to yell obscenities and threats to the guards who stood at the front door. As the guests get to their car, one of them retrieves a handgun from under the passenger seat and…
This story has a few possible endings. Here are just a few of them. When you read them, think of the good and bad that might come from the publicity, the community, the liquor authority and from any injured parties in the form of civil lawsuits.
Unarmed Response One – As the guest opens fire towards the front of the club, guards and guests try to find cover. The shooter gets into the vehicle and it speeds away from the club. 911 is dialed as the shots rang out. The club has 16 bullet holes in it. Luckily, all the shots were aimed at the building and nobody was hit. Authorities eventually caught the suspects and the shooter was prosecuted.
Unarmed Response Two – As the guest opens fire towards the front of the club, guards and guests try to find cover. The shooter gets into the vehicle and it speeds away from the club. 911 was dialed as shots rang out. The club has 8 bullet holes in it, 2 guards received gunshot wounds to their legs and back while 3 guests received wounds to their arms, chest, leg and back. Luckily, none of the wounds were deadly. Law enforcement and medics responded and treated the victims. Authorities eventually caught the suspects and the shooter was prosecuted.
Armed Response One – As the guests walked to their car, two armed guards “shadowed” the group in a non-threatening manner. As the guest pulls his weapon and turns, both guards pull their weapons and start yelling; “drop the gun, drop the gun”. The guest looks at the guards and jumps into the car and it speeds off. The guest points his gun out the window up towards the air and fires several rounds into air. 911 is called and authorities eventually caught the suspects a short distance away. They recovered a weapon and the shooter was arrested.
Armed Response Two – As the guests walked to their car, two armed guards follow the group about 15 feet behind them. As the guest pulls his weapon from the car and turns, both guards pull their own weapons and open fire at the guest. Both guards strike the guest and some of their shots hit the car, striking two of the other guests already in the car. 911 is called and both authorities and medics arrive. The guest with the gun is killed while the passengers are only wounded.
Armed Response Three – As the guests walked to their car, two armed guards follow the group about 20 or 25 feet away. As the guest pulls his weapon from the car and turns he sees the armed guards pulling their weapons. The guest jumps into the passenger seat and the car starts to speed away. The guest holds the gun out of the passenger window and fires 3 rounds at the front of the club. The two armed guards open fire at the fleeing vehicle striking the car along with several other non involved guest vehicles and one other car that was just driving by. 911 is called as the shots rang out. Authorities responded and eventually caught the suspects a short distance away. They recovered a weapon and the shooter was arrested.
From the five responses outlined above, none were perfect and some were worse than others. Each of these responses ended up with severely frightened employees, a police response to the club, next day newspaper headlines, an outraged community and a perception that the club was a real bad place to go. And, at least 3 of the responses, ended up with a civil liability lawsuit that cost both the club and the insurance company thousands of dollars.
So what do operators do? Armed guards or unarmed guards? Crap, there isn’t a perfect answer and each operator must ask themselves some hard questions while also asking for answers to those questions. Here are some of the questions that need to be pondered and discussed.
– What am I trying to achieve? (Keep my venue and property safe? Keep the “bad element” away? Show of force to the “bad element”? Making myself feel better?)
– What is the real problem? (Bad clientele? What are you considering “bad” clientele? Are they really bad or is the perception that they are bad? Promoters being used? Lack of promoter control? Bad club or bar policies regarding problems that have resulting in violence? Lack of a management presence and understanding of how to deal with issues? One issue or MANY issues?)
– Do I need guns on my guards to keep problems away? (Would a better trained guard do the job? Would a better manager do the job? Would a better policy regarding problems do the job?)
– Is the risk worth the reward? (Bad shooting? Police issues? Guest perceptions? Community perceptions Extra expense? Does my insurance cover armed guards?)
These are just a few of the sole searching questions that have to be dealt with as an owner decides to use armed guards or not. Operators can’t be afraid to talk to their local authorities and their staff about this issue too.
Good luck and if you’d like to talk further about the questions or the possible answers, don’t hesitate to contact us directly.