Nightclubs Look At Security

9 years 7 months 1 week ago July 12, 2007 Jul 12, 2007 Thursday, July 12 2007 Thursday, July 12, 2007 9:09:10 PM CDT in News
Last week's shooting outside Club Tropicana left two people wounded. It also left people asking questions about how bars and dance clubs handle security.

Bar owners say they focus on three things to keep its staff and customers safe - having a lot of security staff on hand, being proactive before a problem arises and immediately calling the Columbia police when a situation gets too rough.

Preparing for an evening of partying at Deja Vu isn't just about setting out the alcohol, it's about setting out a plan for a crowd that could get unruly, managing partner Matt Istwan said.

"We typically staff between eight and 14 doormen on our busiest nights. However, on top of those nine doormen, we also place responsibility on all of our bar staff. They are also trained in security measures," Istwan said.

It's a concern shared by other dance clubs in Columbia.

"Obviously, security is first. We don't want anyone to encounter this kind of event again," Club Tropicana co-owner Joy Castillo said.

Last week's shooting happened outside of a parking garage as people were leaving Club Tropicana. Istwan says security at last call is about having a last line of defense.

"At closing time we put our entire staff out onto the parking lot. We make sure that people exit not just our parking lot but pretty much the entire Flat Branch area safely," he said.

Having a beefed up presence is important. But, bouncers know what they can and can't do if someone tries to bust more than just a move.

"We detain a customer. We put this person in a way that they can't harm us first and our customers, obviously, a close second. So the goal here is simply to restrain their arms," Istwan said.

Knowing what to do is essential, because sometimes with some alcohol in them people can have trouble restraining themselves, no matter where they are.

"I know that it sort of --- for lack of a better term --- comes with the territory, that the potential is always there," Castillo said.

That means clubs must always be prepared. In Missouri, there's no law requiring security at clubs, but they have to provide what the state calls a 'safe environment.'

The people at Deja Vu said the smoking ban has actually made security more difficult, because so many more people end up outside.

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