UCF-area bars defend bouncers on safety tactics
They may be putting themselves in danger to protect hundreds of people inside a bar or club, but some bouncers have recently been under pressure and scrutinized for what they do.
Due to recent events, students are beginning to raise safety concerns and questions about what a bouncer's job description entails, and what amount of force is appropriate.
Managers at local bars in the UCF area share similar policies and job requirements for bouncers.
"With us at Stagger Inn, in general, our policy for bouncers is to use passive-aggression and avoid being very hands-on, so no individuals are harmed," said Adam Caldwell, marketing director for Stagger Inn UCF. "Whenever someone is removed, if they are coherent and alert, we try to explain what happened and give them a [business] card to feel free to address the situation the next day if they wish."
Bar bouncers have a responsibility for a number of different tasks, such as a checking IDs, stopping fights and removing people from the bar.
They are inclined to remove people from the bar who are involved in drinking underage, fighting or being overly intoxicated.
As seen in an incident on May 31 at The Knight's Pub near UCF, a bouncer was involved in an altercation and broke a man's skull.
According to the police report, the bouncer was attempting to remove a group of patrons from the pub, and was accused of putting one of the members in a choke-hold and punching another in the face, fracturing his skull and eye socket. The bouncer was fired immediately after the incident.
When one man became unconscious, the report said the other injured man began yelling and calling the bouncer a racial slur.
The bouncer told deputies on the scene that one of the men attacked him before he was removed from the bar and he was attacked again outside, according to the report.
"I have only heard bits and pieces of what happened in the news recently, but the bouncer was probably just trying to do his job. He shouldn't have used that much force like cracking someone's skull, for example," said Maria Dentici, a senior health service administration major. "I think other bouncers may have handled the situation in a different way that would have been more acceptable."
In another incident that occurred at Knight Library — which did not involve any students or bouncers — two men were injured after being involved in a fight and stabbing that occurred outside the bar.
"At Knight Library, we don't tolerate excessive force. Force is never allowed," said Chad Biller, manager at Knight Library. "Our policy is to restrain, if anything, when escorting someone out of the bar.
"I feel sometimes bouncers are understaffed at other bars. Even on slow nights, it's better to be overstaffed."
Although some students may see bouncers in a bad light, others believe bouncers maintain an overall safe and controlled atmosphere.
Dentici said bouncers have gotten a bad name due to recent events, and she thinks people forget how much they actually do to help with specific situations.
"I know they can't see everything that goes on in a club or bar, but if there was a fight to break out or there was a person that was too drunk to be at a bar, I believe they could handle the situation because they deal with these types of problems often," Dentici said.
While not every situation is as dangerous as a fight or a stabbing, bouncers are there to not only help, but make everyone feel safe.
"I felt so much better knowing that the bouncers are there to protect us. I think that bouncers have gotten a really bad name from disgruntled customers," said Jana Barnett, a senior legal studies major.
During an uncomfortable experience at a bar, Barnett said she was able to look to a bouncer for help, who immediately took action.
"The bouncers aren't there to party with you and to get drunk with you. They are there to make sure everyone is safe, and if that means taking action early on to prevent any sort of issue, then that's great because that's their job," she said. "I don't think that bouncers use excessive force. They are risking their safety when they handle fights or belligerent people.
"We can't expect them to always be gentle because they are potentially in danger as well."
Bridgette Norris is a Digital Producer for the Central Florida Future. Follow her on Twitter at @blogginbridge email her at BridgetteN@CentralFloridaFuture.com.