Local nightclubs, movie theaters work to improve security in wake of recent violence

Posted at 6:48 PM, Jun 23, 2016

SAN DIEGO - Local nightclubs, bars and movie theaters are stepping up their game in an attempt to make their businesses safer.

Robert Charles Smith, president and CEO of Nightclub Security Consultants, conducted a forum on making San Diego nightspots safer.

"It's no longer just run and hide; that was taught years ago after Columbine, and for 5 to 10 years it worked. Not anymore," Smith said.

That point was driven home in the Orlando shooting earlier this month.

Smith is a retired law enforcement veteran who's now working with soft targets like nightclubs to minimize threats, and if one does materialize, to end it as quickly and safely as possible.

"The shooters who come in to hurt you or your patrons, they don't want to steal your wallet, they don't want your watch or money; so hiding doesn't prevent you from getting killed. Fighting will prevent you from getting killed," said Smith.

Paris Landen, general manager for West Coast Tavern and the North Park Observatory, said she is completely on board with training the staff to be vigilant and prepared.

"Anyone who is brave enough to stand up can make a difference in a situation and we need to let employees know that any one of them can be the hero to stop something like this from occurring," said Landen.

Security is tighter almost anywhere the public gathers these days, especially in the wake of shootings in Orlando, at UCLA, San Bernardino and movie theaters in Aurora, Colorado, and in Germany.

Una Hamala, security manager for The Observatory in North Park, told 10News, "We have to be more pro-active in handling pat-downs, bag check; definitely pay attention more to detail."

That often means more metal detectors and the use of a wand, from the front door to the back door.

"The threat could come from anywhere … the patrons or the artists themselves. So we want to take every precaution and keep everything not supposed to be inside the theater out," said Hamala.

On Thursday, officials with the San Diego Pride Festival announced that metal detectors would be present at the July 16-17 event at Balboa Park.

The metal detectors will be at all entrances, organizers said.