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Q: Do patrons calling police on their cell phones from inside a club pose a problem for the club owner?

Q. Do patrons calling police on their cell phones from inside a club pose a problem for the club owner? Bouncers are for breaking up disturbances, which are bound to happen from time to time, and yet some people call the police when these things happen instead of letting the bouncers do their thing. And city officials notice incidence reports; might they alert the club or threaten to pull the business license if there are numerous calls to police from inside a club?

A. The short answer to your questions is no.  I have not seen, nor have my clients seen, an increase in 911 calls made by guests who see something happen and feel the need to call police.

That said, city officials, more specifically, police officials will and do look for the number of calls for police service to alcohol licensed venues when they have a reason to. The most common reason  city officials look for calls for police service statistics is when a bar or club has shown a history of trouble and is "on the radar." Some clarification is needed: If there were 10 guests in the nightclub during a fight and all 10 of the guests called 911, all 10 calls for police service would count at a single call to the address of the nightclub or a single call for police service. The 10 calls made by guests will fall under one single incident for police service.

Here is another, I think, more important point regarding police calls for service and police visits that nearly all clubs and bars really should note: How many clubs and bars keep a record of every single police visit to their venue? I mean every single police visit to their property? My informal research and survey of 25 club and bar owners has shown exactly zero out of 25. Owners and managers should remember that city officials are documenting every call for service to clubs. Owners and managers should also be documenting every visit by police and what action was taken by the officers. For example; cop sits in the bar parking lot, does nothing and just sits and watches, makes a phone call and then 40 minutes later, drives out of the parking lot. That 40 minutes must be documented by the club or bar that they had a cop on the premise and there was no action taken.

This number could be very important, and when compounded over a year it could reach more than 1,000 hours of cop out of service time and more than 500 visits to the bar or club without any police problem or other issue in a year. So, and this is the major point, when city officials call a bar or club on the carpet and say they have too many calls for police service and point to 23 calls in a year, the club can say, "Hey, wait a minute, we also have over 500 visits where no police action was taken." Dumbfounded city officials may now back up, regroup and pull their 23 calls off the table.

Bottom line, cell phone 911 calls are rare and not an issue as a group of calls.

— Robert C. Smith, CEO/President, Nightclub Security Consultants




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