Your bar is your safe haven. It is where you have put your money, your time, blood, sweat, and tears. And in order to keep it running like a well-oiled machine, it’s important to implement a certain level of security.
Your staff may love their jobs and you all get along, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t keep an eye on them. And when a rowdy customer comes busting through your doors on a Saturday night, it’s important to make sure they’re monitored before they put your business in danger. In order to know your venue is covered for optimal surveillance, it’s important to cover all your bases, from the front of the house to the back, and everything in between.
Let’s Start at the Beginning
The front of the house is where the night begins for your employees as well as your patrons. Getting customers in the door is where the money starts to flow, and the technology that is available to keep your front door protected is outstanding.
The Lumencam (www.lumencam.com) is a flashlight that also acts as an audio/video recorder, perfect for your front-of-house staff to have in-hand while letting people in. Without the unsuspecting intoxicated customer even knowing that he’s being recorded, doormen holding the Lumencam can do just that with the click of a button.
“In the front of the house on a busy night, you don’t even have to turn off the video camera, you can just record all the IDs that come through,” says Omar Arbelaez, Sales Manager for Lumencam. “You can video yourself with every ID. If there’s any discrepancy when you find a fake ID or somebody loses their ID, you can go back and check it out.”
The Lumencam also takes things a step further. Beyond simply checking IDs, bouncers can make sure that if a patron is being belligerent before he even gets inside, any scuffle or behavior is recorded and can be used later as evidence against them if they were to ever get argumentative about the altercation that took place.
“Any time there’s an incident—maybe drunk people that get in a pushing fight in the line—you can record video and audio of anything going on. Lumencam can record without good light too, if you just want audio.”
In order to trust your security guards at the front of the house with a piece of technology such as the Lumencam, it’s important to invest in some level of basic security training. According to Robert Smith, President and CEO of Nightclub Security Consultants (www.nightclubsecurity.com), it is a state law in California that there be mandatory in-house training for all guards, consisting of what they already know as well as things that “nobody had thought to teach before.” This kind of training ensures that your guards are able to handle whatever comes at them at the front door or inside the venue.
“For example, California says, ‘Here are the mandated courses you need to take,’ and it’s basic stuff,” says Smith. “ID recognition, date rape understanding, use of force limitation, citizens arrest, liabilities, report writing—all the stuff a good guard should know.”
After realizing the amount of interest in this kind of on-the-job training was high, Smith decided it was a smart move to put the training information online so bar owners nationwide could access the information easily and implement it into their bars effectively. Training your guards may not be a physical piece of equipment that you can hold in your hand or plug into the wall, but the kind of training being offered to guards today is leaps and bounds ahead of what it used to be.
From the Back, to the Middle, and Around Again
The inside of your venue has several different areas. There’s your bar, perhaps a dance floor, a seating area, and of course you have your behind-the-scenes components, such as private offices and storage spaces. It’s important that these areas, which are the meat of your establishment, are being protected with eyes and ears all over the place. As a general rule, setting up cameras in places that get a lot of traffic or house important items such as money or liquor, is a good place to start.
Jody Stahl, Director of Business Development for World Wide Security (www.worldwidesecurityusa.com), has seen a huge boom in technology in terms of surveillance and alarm systems available for nightlife venues, especially when it comes to cameras.
“Right now, between surveillance and alarm systems and active control, bar owners and club owners can really keep a pulse on the business 24 hours a day, seven days a week,” says Stahl. “The cameras are so far advanced that the picture quality is incredible. Our cameras are all day and night cameras, meaning that when a light is on you have full color and a great shot, but when the situations is dark, our cameras are infrared.”
While these cameras serve well for surveying the bar area and making sure that any altercations that take place are well-documented, they are also good for keeping an eye on security in-house—as in the staff. With the technology available from World Wide Security, cameras can be set up that transmit a ten-second video clip to the bar owner whenever someone walks into a certain room.
“There’s plenty of different areas in bars and nightclubs that people aren’t supposed to be in,” says Stahl. “Any time somebody can go into that specific area, the owner can get a text message that someone walked in or they can get a ten-second video clip of who walked in there within seconds of it happening. When you talk about keeping track of what’s going on, whether you’re there or not, the technology is really tremendous.”
If your establishment is in need of a security upgrade, contact a professional to help you. Stahl has seen several bar owners and nightclub owners jump the gun when it comes to security technology, only to the detriment of their venue. Contacting an expert is the best place to start, so you don’t end up with an expensive set of electronics and no idea what to do with it.
“Do your homework,” advises Stahl. “Talk to a professional, somebody that knows what they’re doing. Understand what’s out there. You’re going to have to spend some money, so you need to spend it in the right places. Don’t forget about security, and make sure you attack it, but make sure you attack it with a professional.”
No matter how large your venue is, it is important to keep any and all elements of it, from the front to the back, completely secure from any kind of security breaches that can come your way. With some help from these experts, you’re sure to keep your safe haven—and your customer base—as secure as can be.