01 September 2014

Bouncer talk- Tactics and Tools



The way I ended up working at this bar was that a friend set it up for me to do a Personal Protection Course for the staff. They liked me and I needed work. Since then I have written and taught a course called Contact & Control for Bar Staff. One of the primary tenants of the use of force policy that I wrote for the bar and they adopted was a "no strike policy'. The reasoning is that when bar staff has to go hands on with someone, the goal is to remove them, not tune them up. This requires moving them, usually though a crowd. Striking people does a poor job of controlling people. Many bouncers seem to have two mane "go tos", striking and choking. Both cause you to fixate on one person and disregard your 360. Both also impede movement.

The reason they revert to those two things is a lack of options. Several years ago I came up with Tactical Passive Restraint. Initially it was intended for hospital staff and EMS to restrain out of control patients. It is based off of the understanding of the anatomical positions of the arms and legs during resistance. TPR allows 2-5 people to restrain a person standing, on a stretcher, or on the ground without much effort while protecting their C spine. Most recently I demoed this to the Indiana Dept of Corrections defensive tactics unit. This is because it works well for corrections applications as well.

Back to the bar, I had to take a long hard look at what actually happens during a removal. Usually you have 2-3 bouncers grabbing a hold of someone to remove them. As far as I know there are no martial arts that teach 2-3 guys to "attack" someone. The first problem I saw was what I call the "grab and pivot", one bouncer would make contact with the patron and that point of contact would become the pivot point for them the strike/struggle with the other hand. Now we have a policy where we move in a bit slower if possible and both grab a side, using a TPR hold that takes the arm out of it natural anatomical position rendering the arms useless. Then we walk towards the door. Less people try to hinder us because we are not "beating up" their buddy. If he goes "jelly legs" another bouncer grabs the bottom of his pants or short from behind. Most people stop fighting all together at this point because of their natural feel of being dropped. This is our primary tactics so guys have a goto now besides choking and striking.

Back to the "no strike policy". One person can not effectively restrain or remove a combative/resisting person. This is because there are two sides to the body, and like a snake, a person will instinctively roll towards the pivot point the are being held by. Bouncers are told that nobody is to attempt to remove anyone by themselves. If they are "attacked" breaking up a fight or otherwise, they are allowed to strike but will have to justify their actions in an incident report form that is now reviewed by me.

Here is our use of force policy-

Staff presence (having identifiable staff)
Personal presence (staff members responding to an incident)
Verbal commands
Open Hand Control / Tactical Passive Restraint (two people min)
Strikes (if justified by the totality of circumstances)

As far as EDC-

Many guys are still carrying big ass Mag Lites. Since I started working there many guys have gone to smaller lights. The problem with the Mag Lites are they are a highly visible deadly weapon, and when you see one everybody sees it. Instead I am working with staff on more subtle pen/light tactics.

Currently I carry a Novatac Classic, primarily because it is an awesome light that runs on 2 AA. I use my light more in the bar in 5-6 hrs than I ever did as a cop on a 8 hr night shift. It also has lower settings that are nice for checking IDs. It is carried in my reaction side rear pocket. Many bouncers never carried a gun for a living so they carry their lights strong side. There is a good chance that the light may be in my weak hand when a fight starts, but I don't pull it out before going hands on with someone. That would be like putting a drill bit on your drill before knowing what size you needed.

When I was a copper I always got out of my car with my Surefire 8X in my strong hand on a persons call at night. During the day it was my closed ASP baton. After making initial contact and deciding that things were cool I would switch my 8X to my weak hand or put my ASP back behind my gun. Understand I was doing criminal enforcement under the color of law. As a bouncer I am only acting as an agent of the property owner.

As a bouncer my Novatac Classic is my favorite and most used tool, but because of the environment would seldom be used as a force option with one exception. Our parking lot is a no mans land, were the older lady that watches the lot was pistol whipped and robbed the other night. Whenever I am in that lot I have my light in my hand and usually my right hand is in my front right pocket loaded with the finger sap. This is especially true at the end of the night, when the parking lot is empty and I have tip money in my pocket. If gun faced at a distance there is not a lot I can do, but if I am jumped I have and impact tool in each hand and the sap still affords me the ability to hook and grapple with my right.

My pen is used primarily for writing, shocker right? It serves two other purposes. Once is that it can be used if something were to happen while I had it out, and two, carried in the neckline of my t-shirt it serves as a high line back up weapon that I can get to in comprised positions.

After my class, we all now carry Fox 40 whistles. One long blow signals help, three signals a medical emergency, stop the music, and turn the lights on. You can hear the whistle over the crowd and music and we know right away it is a staff member.

My Mechanix Gloves are usually just for keeping my hands clean when doing bar chores, but when we have certain kinds of shows and I know I will be going hands on a lot, or we know were are going to remove someone ahead of time, I put them on.

When I first started I was carry my Sebenza in my back pocket, but due to the tight crowds I started carrying it in a pouch from Lifters Leather. It was more protected and safe. Lately I started carrying my Strider Suspect SMF also in leather by Lifter. The reason for the Strider is that the weather has been crazy this year and I am about 40 miles from home. I wanted a sharped pry bar for my pocket in case of an emergency. I would not hesitate to use it or any knife for deadly force if I needed to. But as I look back across the last 20 years of going hands on with people, I don't see one example of where I would have ever had the time or opportunity. As a cop I defended against an edged weapon three times, and each and every time I credited my success to not being encumbered buy a tool in my hand. I still train using IET and other stuff, but the more and more I study how people come in contact with each other, the more and more I believe that it is about open hand skills at contact distance.
- George

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