Sunday, April 4, 2010

Review: Best Practices from Music Nightlife Handbook


  • Perform background and reference checks of all employees.
  • Ensure that staff is trained to maintain clear stairways, exit routes, and aisles at all times.
  • See that Shift Managers and/or Supervisors are responsible for checking all emergency exits at the beginning of shift AND for making sure that exits remain clear and unlocked for the duration of their shift.
  • Ensure staff is trained on emergency policies
  • Complete incident reports or log entries for every Security, Police, Injury, Use of Force, or other Public Safety incident that occurs in our around your immediate premises.

Event Promoters

  • Hiring event promoters with a valid business license and professional references.
  • Be aware of how and where events will be advertised, and do not allow excessive promoting of events, or promotion to "the wrong crowd"
  • Venue is responsible for staffing, security, ID-ing, weapons screening, occupancy limits, drugs & contraband, finances, admissions tax, behavior, levels of intoxication. Maintain control at all times. Never allow a promoter or their staff to control ID checking at the door, the clicker, the bar, or collection of the cover charge.
Age Verification
  • All-ages events makes it unnecessary to enforce age-limit and require checking ids.
  • However, in case of will-call tickets, policies should be clear and consistent, and strictly enforced, ie requiring credit card used for purchase.
  • Keep the line moving as smoothly as possible and ensure that a problem solver is always near the door to deal with issues.
Line Queues
  • If you regularly have line queues for entry into your establishment, designating security staff to walk the line can be an effective deterrent against disruptive and/or illegal activity. Line security are tasked with assessing intoxication, reviewing dress code, ensuring line queues are not encroaching on other properties or businesses, monitoring smokers & littering, maintaining the 5 feet sidewalk clearance required by the ADA, and monitoring line mixing between cars and patrons. Patrons who fail to meet dress code, violate the code of conduct, appear intoxicated or have a prior record should be removed as soon as possible to avoid incidents.
  • Multiple Line Queues: VIP lines and special entry privileges can create problems and are generally discouraged by law enforcement entities. If have another line for separate entry, ie one for cash sales other for will-call, make sure to have approver readily available at the each entrance to avoid conflict. and clearly indicate purpose of each line to reduce confusion by patrons
Code of Conduct
  • Post a Code of Conduct prominently inside and outside your club. Ensure your staff knows the code and enforces it consistently, without exception. Patrons who violate the code should be removed immediately. If patrons resist or situations escalate, security staff should call for SPD assistance immediately. Contacting SPD for assistance will not be held against a club, and should be encouraged.
Re-Entry Policy
  • Re-Entry Policy: Allowing re-entry without strict monitoring can lead to problems such as over-occupancy and over-consumption off premises. For these and other reasons, re-entry policies are discouraged. If you allow exiting for smoking, consider designating a secured or controlled area for this purpose. If re-entry is allowed, it is critical to require that every patron be re-screened and bags checked upon re-entry. Many violent incidents could be avoided if patron re-screening is maintained consistently and thoroughly. Remember, you are still responsible for an intoxicated person on your premises, even if they drank outside. This includes an intoxicated minor on your premises during an all-ages event regardless of where that minor consumed the alcohol.
  • Occupancy: Have a clear policy on counting patrons, and be sure to enforce it consistently. At a minimum, establishments regularly reaching their occupancy capacity should use both in and out clickers. You must decide how to count smokers who exit and re-enter, and be consistent. The best practice would be a “no re-entry” policy or possibly charging a re-entry fee for patrons who insist on exiting the premises. It is in your best interest to keep people inside, patronizing the business, and limiting access to any weapons or contraband that may be kept in vehicles.
Security & Staffing
  • Training is imperative
  • Weapons / Contraband Screening: Whether you decide to use wands, pat-downs, purse checks, or another form of screening, be sure there is no confusion about your policy. Maintaining clear, consistent enforcement is imperative. Weapons of any kind have no place in your business. Establishments have a duty to call 911 when weapons are discovered, in case of injuries and medical emergencies, or when any criminal activity is discovered. You may be liable for any criminal activity that occurs as a result of failure to report. Whether or not these instances are reported to police, an internal record should be kept at the very least.
  • Staff Uniforms: Whether it is a shirt or jacket, consistency in identifiable club employees, security, and door staff is imperative for crowd control. Ensure that your staff are aware of each position’s responsibilities, and provide clear and concise job descriptions.

    Particularly, Security staff should all be easily identifiable in “Security” marked shirts or jackets. If you choose to employ plain-clothes security, they should not take action unless identifiable security staff is present, or if it is a dire emergency. In such instances, they should clearly identify themselves as security before engaging patrons “hands on.”

  • Floor Roamers: Assign dedicated employees to roam the club, bathrooms, VIP areas, etc. Experienced, well-trained security staff will mediate and diffuse situations before they escalate.
  • Security Staffing: In addition to entry security personnel (ID checks, weapon checks, line queues) it is crucial to have enough security staff monitoring your patrons inside. Consider a security:patron ratio for high volume events
  • Security Staff Equipment: Special consideration should be given to the equipment your security staff will use:
    1. Firearms: Only licensed, private, outside security personnel are allowed to carry firearms, and never inside your premises.
    2. Flashlights: Security staff should carry relatively small high-powered flashlights in lieu of the Mag-Light style which are heavier and might become a dangerous weapon or be turned against security personnel.
    3. Handcuffs / Restraints: When properly used, handcuffs are the safer option for restraining patrons prior until SPD assistance arrives.
    4. Pepper Spray (OC): If you choose to outfit security staff with pepper spray, you must make it clear that under no circumstances should anyone discharge pepper spray inside your premises. Widespread panic and injury is inevitable as a result of indoor pepper spray use. If security determines pepper spray is warranted, it should only be discharged outdoors and away from exits or ventilation ducts. Certain types of pepper spray are not allowed, so consult with SPD before you authorize use by security personnel. For further information about pepper spray and its reaction when used with tasers, see the linked article from Law Officer Magazine.
  • Two-way Radios: Internal radio usage is up to the establishment, and highly recommended, particularly if crowds consistently top occupancy limits. Security staff and management should be in constant contact, ready to resolve problems before they escalate. In addition, be in contact with other neighboring clubs to let them know when an unruly patron has been removed from your premises.
  • CCTV: While there are no requirements for security camera monitoring, taking this measure protects you as much as is protects your patrons and assists law enforcement. Establishing a pattern of good practice is key. Consider cameras to monitor entrances, exits, and any other sensitive or problem areas. CCTV systems should have at least one weeks to a month of footage before they over-write, and any footage that exists must be immediately given over to law enforcement if requested for incident investigation.
  • Lighting: If you have crowd control issues, it may help to bring up the lighting levels inside your establishment. Consider raising levels on the dance floor, in lounge areas, restrooms and entryways.
  • Theft: Theft is one of the most reported incidents by patrons to nightlife establishments. Encourage patrons to check their coats and bags to prevent theft. Ensure that control and order are maintained in the coat check area at all times, especially at closing. Keep records of thefts occurring in your club for your protection as well as the protection of your patrons.
  • Outdoor Monitoring: If your outdoor areas are a problem or you deal with repeated incidents outside your establishment, you might consider installing outdoor monitoring systems , extra lighting and posting signs clearly stating that patrons are being monitored in those areas.
  • Parking Lots: If you have a parking lot, you are liable for this space and it is considered your premises. Your parking lot should be monitored by personnel or by CCTV at all times when your patrons may be present. Be sure sufficient lighting is in place to assist security in monitoring these areas. In particular, it is essential to monitor parking areas to prevent patrons from drinking in or around vehicles prior to entry or re-entry.
  • Conflict Management: Clear policies and training on conflict management are imperative to your security plan. Institute an “Ask. Tell. Make.” Policy, (Ask them to correct the behavior; Tell them to correct the behavior; Make them comply) and be sure it is enforced consistently. If patrons refuse to comply or become combative, staff should immediately call for SPD. Calls for SPD assistance made in good faith and for the protection of patrons and neighbors alike, will not be counted against the establishment. Likewise, if you fail to call 911 to report a public safety incident you may be liable for that failure.
  • Major Events: Invest in your patrons’ safety; hire additional outside security when you plan major events involving larger than normal crowds. Also, report large scale events to SPD ahead of time and/or request more frequent patrols if you anticipate the need for increased crowd control outside your establishment.
  • SPD Trespass Agreement: You can request that SPD remove any problem offenders from your premises if you maintain a signed Trespass Agreement with the Seattle Police. This allows criminal charges to be filed if they return and are reported by you.
  • SPD Relations: Meet with SPD Precinct representatives as often as necessary to discuss operational issues, solutions to common problems, neighborhood trends, security concerns, etc.
  • Patron Removal Records: When at all possible, keep a record of patrons who are removed from your establishment, with photographs if possible.


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