Bouncers and Handcuffs

Posted on: by Robert C Smith | No Comments
Bouncers and Handcuffs

Handcuff’s for Bouncers; Good, Bad, Legal or Even Necessary?

One of the first things I learned in the police academy was that handcuffs were a very valuable tool that when used correctly, could keep others and myself safe.  During my 20-year career as a police officer and detective, I can easily estimate I used my handcuffs over 1000 times.  Some got the bracelets on their way to jail and others wore them during a tense or potentially dangerous situation.

How can handcuffs keep someone safe?  Well, many times when they’re put on the subject, the feeling of having handcuffs, the restriction, the binding positions brings an automatic feeling of submission.  I found handcuffs to be an extremely valuable tool to maintain a safer environment.

So, what about the use of handcuff’s by your neighborhood, the in-house security guard or “Bouncer”?  I would estimate that nationally, less than 1 in 100 bar or club security guards use handcuffs.  I’ve heard pro and con arguments for the use of handcuffs by bouncers and by far, the two strongest arguments against allowing bouncers to use handcuffs was that they first, they weren’t allowed to detain people, and second, they weren’t allowed to use handcuffs.

Understand, right off the bat, that I am a total supporter of bouncers using handcuffs if they have operating policies and have received the proper training surrounding when to use them, why to use them, police considerations, liability considerations, medical considerations and documentation considerations.

Let’s address the first argument surrounding Citizen’s Arrest or Citizen’s Detention.  First, I’m not an attorney and if you need to verify this information, please consult a qualified attorney.

For our discussion, the two terms “Arrest” and “Detention” mean the same thing; holding or stopping a private citizen by another private citizen.  The word “detention” and “arrest”, for our discussion, only means to stop someone.  You can do your own research, but let me tell you that every state allows for some form of Citizen’s Arrest or Citizen’s Detention when a felony crime has been committed.  For this discussion point, that’s all we need to discuss surrounding Citizen’s Arrest or Citizen’s Detention.

Next, let’s talk about the use of handcuffs by private citizens such as a bar or club bouncer.  Again, I’m not an attorney and if you need to verify this information, please consult an attorney.

I’ve been retained to train or consult in 32 states and in each of these states I found NO rules or regulations surrounding the use of handcuffs by private citizens.  In each of these states, the only “guard” licensing regulations I could find was for the actual uniformed security guard working for a qualified guard company, the possession of firearms, chemical agents or impact weapons by a state licensed security guard.  There was no mention of handcuffs anywhere.  So, from this, we can conclude that handcuffs can be used with no licensing, no training and no oversight.

Let me also add this important point right now.  If you or your staff uses excessive force in connection with either a citizen’s arrest or when handcuffing, you or your staff are open to some pretty serious civil liability, not to mention the obvious criminal liability.

Ok, so why should a bouncer, if it’s legal, carry and use handcuffs?  Well, just as I discussed in paragraph two above, because handcuffs can increase safety and decrease the possibility of after incident violence.

However, in every bar or club, when employees are given permission to use handcuffs by management, every employee must have clear policies, procedures and training for the use of handcuffs.  These policies, procedures and training should be clear, detailed but still simple enough for employees to understand and easily follow.

Written policies and procedures should be detailed and cover so much more, here are a couple of examples for when to use handcuffs.

  1. Handcuff usage should be considered when the person or guest has committed a violent felony with or without injury.
  2. Handcuff usage should be considered when the person or guests has committed a felony, whether violent or not.
  3. Handcuff usage should be considered when the person or guest is actively resisting the verbal commands and hands on compliance techniques of employees attempting to stop a violent altercation.
  4. Any other handcuff usage should be considered only after approval by onsite management.

There may be other basic rules management wants to implement, but remember, even though there are basic dos and don’ts, it is extremely important to provide the staff with the correct training to use handcuffs.

There are few training programs that teach handcuffing as it relates to the duties and functions of the bar or club bouncer.  Even fewer handcuffing training puts guards in the exact work related conditions they see nightly.  Be sure, when looking for a training course, that the person or program being used doesn’t just provide the standard police handcuffing training.

Police handcuffing training is specialized to the police environment, their police training and the other equipment they have at their disposal.  This type of training may be all you can find, if that’s the case, be sure to explain to the trainer exactly what you want the staff to know and have them adjust their training accordingly.

And, don’t forget, we offer a totally job specific handcuffing training program that has trained hundreds of guards nationally.  Our primary focus has been in Southern California, but when we combine our National HOST Security Training along with our Handcuffing training, the cost is extremely manageable.

Good Luck and Be Safe

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