The NYPD Still Doesn’t Understand Nightlife
In conjunction with the New York Nightlife Association, the New York City Police Department (NYPD) has released a 27-page booklet entitled "Best Practices for Nightlife Establishments.” While I applaud both organizations on this effort, the contents of the guide leave anyone who has ever been to a bar or club — or simply seen one on TV — scratching his or her head.
The pages warn owners and proprietors to be on the look out for “people with suspicious bags and identical bags being carried by several individuals.” Why? Because they could be suicide bombers. Obviously. "Counter-terrorism security plans should include training for all staff in the detection of possible suicide bombers," the guide says.
“There are many factors which may create suspicion of this activity,” it continues. Those include “inappropriate clothing for the season, time, place or circumstance; protrusions from the clothing; concealment of the hands; visible wires or tape; two or more people communicating and trying not to be observed; a suspect whose presence or behavior is inconsistent with the time or place; individuals who are obviously disguised; individuals with obvious signs of extreme stress or nervousness, such as bulging veins in the neck, profuse sweating, shaking hands, touching the face continuously, involuntary motions, apathy, distant stare or unfocused gazing, feeling the body continuously; and individuals whose speech includes stuttering, mumbling or chanting, or are hesitant or unresponsive.”
By this comprehensive description, every time I see a neck-vein-popping juicehead fist pumping in a club while spraying sweat over those in his nearby vicinity, I should assume he is a member of Al-Qaeda, not a “Jersey Shore” cast member. The Ed Hardy T-shirt merely proves how adept terrorists are at fitting in. Similarly, the girl who dressed up in costume for her friend’s ‘80s-themed birthday party is obviously plotting a jihad on the United States.
Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly claims the guide’s aim isn’t to "alarm, but to help owners and operators craft effective strategies for terrorism prevention and preparedness." I’m pretty sure anyone strolling up to any club’s doors with “visible wires” protruding from his body won’t get in, even if he agrees to buy five magnums of Dom Perignon Rose.
Robert Bookman, legal counsel for the New York Nightlife Association, defends the project — which is now enduring a high amount of backlash from the media — by saying, "We're trying to get this terrorist awareness into the lexicon so security guards know when they should feel comfortable calling the police. There is also a new section on sexual-assault awareness. The most notorious incidents in the past few years have had to do with young women leaving establishments intoxicated with someone they didn't come in with." The addition of how to handle sexual assaults is a great step forward, even though many young women leave with strange men, given that hooking up that is one of the main reasons people go clubbing in the first place.
That said, it’s still a little hard to focus on the positives of that section when it’s surrounded by gems warning operators about people conducting “hostile surveillance.” This is when, per the guide, “people are sketching, drawing, taking notes, taking pictures, or taking video, while pretending to be tourists, students, or customers.” Under those circumstances, I would be subject to scrutiny because I often take notes, videos and pictures in clubs to post on this very Web site. Coupled with the fact that I ask many questions about how the room was constructed and have used the phrase, “So, the load-bearing beams are located behind these walls, right?” more than once, I’m lucky no one has tipped off the Feds.