Security Planning For Bars And Nightclubs

Author: Brian Karas, Published on Jun 16, 2016

The shooting at Orlando's Pulse nightclub is raising questions among entertainment venue owners, and security professionals, about how to balance security at safety at these locations.

Inside, we provide suggestions and recommendations specific to these kinds of businesses,  based on discussions we had with security consultants .

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Comments (7)

NYC recommends *digital* cameras? Interesting.

Although it would slow down entry times, consideration could also be given to the use of an airlock system after pat down searching, operated from the inside and with BR glazing on the inner door. Unfortunately large queue's outside of public venues will remain vulnerable, although as stand-off detection technologies such as MiRTLE continue to mature they may provide a partial solution.

Obviously this level of mitigation comes at a price, both financially and operationally, but short of radical changes in US gun control (which will likely never happen) is the only real means of prevention.

Although it would slow down entry times, consideration could also be given to the use of an airlock system after pat down searching, operated from the inside and with BR glazing on the inner door.

Agreed, and I had some discussions around concepts like this, as well as separating the queue area at the door from the parking area by a large distance.

I also debated about adding a section on screening incoming guests through disguised metal detectors and other tactics that can be used by security personnel to do additional screening.

However, if you take security to this level it has a negative impact on people wanting to go to the club. There are certainly places in the world that airport-grade screening at a nightclub might not seem off-putting, but based on my own experiences in the US, UK, AUS, Caribbean, Macau, and Japan I think that using these kinds of tactics would be over the top and would drive customers away.

This report was meant to be a set of guidelines for the typical nightclub/bar, where the odds of anything happening are extremely low, but taking some precautionary measures can reduce the chances of being caught off-guard, and can reduce overall casualties.

I have to state very frankly, any professional who is still teaching Run Hide Fight (RHF) tactic as the best response in an active shooter situation should be fired. That tactic has been promoted as a one-side-fits-all solution and definitely is the wrong tactic in a crowded nighthclub/bar. I'm emphatic because real human lives are at stake.

RHF didn't work for any of the other mass shootings in the US or overseas. Historically, the evidence shows that mass killers stop killing when they are confronted by resistance (e.g. armed police or armed citizen). In the vast majority of those cases, the killer either was captured, killed, or commits suicide. In all cases, the killer no longer kills innocent people.

Isn't that the primary goal, to save lives as quickly as possible? At the Orlando club, the shooting started at 2:02am and the police tactical team didn't enter the building until 5:05am. Playing Hide and Seek with a shooter is not a wise game to play. If more of the club security personnel (besides just one single off duty officer) had been armed and trained, 49 people might still be alive.

Mass killers target 'gun free zones', soft targets, places where the likelihood of someone actually returning fire is extremely low. Mass killers fear failure. Ever notice you never see a mass killer walk in and attack a police station? The response active killers don't expect, is an armed person shooting back at them.

New York Nightlife's recommendations are pretty generic (dated 2011), though if a nightclub owner had no idea how to approach security, this is a good starting point. They recommended clubs to "consider the installation of a hard-wired (land-line) pulse dial analog telephone which will function during power failures." Not sure about NYC but many phone companies in California are removing their aging copper infrastructure and installing fiber to the house/business. Copper lines just are not being offered much anymore.

In summary (I'm sorry this was so long, I didn't intend to write an entire article!), we as a society need to recognize that teaching things like RHF to the general public is setting them up for failure. And in the case of active killers, that could mean death. Some recent articles not in favor of RHF are: “Run, Hide, Fight?”- Not Always the Best Active Killer Response and Why 'Run, Hide, Fight' is flawed

This is not just my opinion as a former military weapons instructor (7 years) and current firearms instructor (NRA and DoJ), but coincidentally, advice against the RHF tactic was recently presented just this month by my local police department at our neighborhood watch meeting.

Now...on a positive note;

the IPVM demonstration of how IR illuminators can overcome the effects of strobe lights in video images was excellent! Thank you for conceiving such a test, and sharing the results with us. Great job!

Did I just lose my IPVM membership over this post? :)

RHF didn't work for any of the other mass shootings in the US or overseas. Historically, the evidence shows that mass killers stop killing when they are confronted by resistance (e.g. armed police or armed citizen). In the vast majority of those cases, the killer either was captured, killed, or commits suicide. In all cases, the killer no longer kills innocent people.

I would tend to agree with "evidence shows that mass killers stop killing when they are confronted by resistance", but I would also say the average bar/nightclub employee, even one who is performing a security function, is not going to be well trained (or equipped) to neutralize a shooter.

You seem to disagree with RHF as it is referenced here, which is part of the "Employee Training" section, recommending that employees be trained to Run first, then hide if they can't exit, and lastly fight if left with no other option.

What is your alternative recommendation? You did not make that clear in your post. Are you suggesting bar/nightclub employees go direct to "fight" and attempt to engage/neutralize the shooter? If so, how?

RHF didn't work for any of the other mass shootings in the US or overseas. Historically, the evidence shows that mass killers stop killing when they are confronted by resistance (e.g. armed police or armed citizen). In the vast majority of those cases, the killer either was captured, killed, or commits suicide. In all cases, the killer no longer kills innocent people.

Maybe it should be changed to Run, Hide, Fight unless you have a gun.

Example of a person who actively intervened and stopped a shooter. Guy's a hero:

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