09 September 2014

Bouncer Talk- profiling and avoiding the bubble

Probably no surprise that the vast majority of real problems come from males. For the most part the guy that comes into the bar alone or with a lady is not an issue. When he has a wing man, or more often a few guys flags go up. Not from him just walking in but knowing that if one in that group has to be removed you will be dealing at least verbally with the whole group. If things go to the ground, his buddies who may not otherwise be involved will have no problem kicking you while you are down. I go out of my way to learn the names of regulars because if you know there name it is less likely for them to act up, and if they do it makes for more effective verbal commands. During conversation it sometimes turns to interests and they assume I have done some MA. I have found that if most people have trained it is in wrestling, BJJ, or MMA. This only concretes the emphasis I have always put on staying on my feet. In our upstairs bar we primarily deal with Hipsters who are all mouth, but seldom create a physical problem. At the concert venue, it of course depends on the concert. We host a lot of sub mainstream bands with loyal followings, lots of Indie, mall punk, punk etc. What most of the crowds have in common is that it is basically conformity masquerading as individualism. All groups/subcultures have "uniforms".

Not surprising is that another similarity to police work is that most of the time it comes down to interpersonal communication skills and reading situations fast. The biggest difference is that always working in crowds like concerts and bars is that your regular "awareness" skills need to be tweaked. You are surrounded by people and the amount of input to your senses is overwhelming. You need to learn to gate it, and by that I mean filtering things that are not important. Think of the information as water flowing through a hose, even none important things like someone dropping a pool cue (which at first used to make me jump) can cause a bubble or stoppage in the hose. You have got to keep the flow of information coming. I have found that the best way of doing this is not to look for individual problems in the crowed because it forces you to focus on small areas and that creates a "bubble", but rather scan the faces of the people in the crowd. Because you are scanning across a broader field you are less likely to miss things. People tend to react in clusters and square to the sight, sound, or action that alerted them. So in a big crowd you see a group of people spontaneously square towards another person or group. Another way to look at it is like this, you are working in rapids and looking for the reaction of a pebble hitting the water, it is easier to see a boulder splash.

This is something that I started doing long ago into a lesser degree in restaurants or bars. Sure it is nice if you can get your back against a wall, but I am more interested in being close to an exit, especially when I have the family in tow, IMHO the kitchen is always best since it leads to the back door, and unless it is a very professional take over robbery, the chances of anyone being posted on the back are slim. I also prefer to see the door, but more importantly I scan the faces of other customers and more importantly the staff. It is their environment, and when you work in an specific environment you notice unusual things. The will have tells on their face, you just need to learn to read them. I have found that women are best for this. They have a creeper detector, and it is usually set very low. Just watch their body language and listen if you can. Also watch for them to go back to the serving station to complain or talk about the person to the bartender or other servers. Waitresses and bartenders often have stalkers.

When I am working the door and doing my physical pat-downs of people coming in, here are things I look for.

I have already talked about footwear but here it goes again, a hipster where flip-flops or other slip-ons are less likely to kick, or be effective at kicking then the punk wearing Doc Martin or logging boots. Are they wearing pants or shorts that would allow me to pull them off their feet? Many punks blouse their pants into their boots.

I also look for belts because they provide and excellent handle that will not rip off like other clothes.

Early on in my career I stopped grabbing onto suspects clothes because of them ripping and their ability to spin out of them. I once saw and officer left standing with a leather jacket, one pocket filled with crack and money, the other filled with a pistol. Even when doing Judo I did not grip the Gi but instead used the natural hooking points on my Uke's body. This and removing my thumb from the grip so that I can only pull (which is 30 % stronger than pushing, and brings the attacker closer) has made all the difference for within arms reach control.

This is just more stuff off the top of my head- George

Even the pros know that simple is best

Got a phone call from a fella that I last saw in 2001 while attending a SWAT school.  Like me he is also retired and working in the private sector as the training coordinator for the executive protection team for a well known company.  The phone call followed an e-mail where he said he was interested in having me do some training for them.

Guess what training they want.......Combat Pen.  They want something that is subtle, quick, and retainable.  Just funny how so many are stuck on toy and the pros want this basic training.

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

Bouncer talk- Visual Patdown

For the last two years I have either been bouncing off and on to supplement my income.  It has served to support my family as well as a free laboratory for studying people of all types.  When I started I began to post some of my findings in a what became a very popular thread on the Usual Suspect Network.  Another MCS instructor Art Dorst suggested I post some of them here on the blog.  Many are not article, but thoughts and ideas about people and violence.  I will try to name them to keep track.   I have worked several different places from punk concert venues to a pub at a golf course (more violent than the punk club) Here is the first -  Visual Patdown



Some thoughts that just came to mind. The club where I work has a concert as well as a loft with a DJ. When I am working the door I make a habit of visually patting people down as they come in the door. I start at the face like most people but then go right to the feet. As a police I found out that after committing a crime if people change their clothes they seldom change their shoes. I love guys where flip flops, nothing like stomping their feet. Brings the head down fast. Next I am looking for boots that have visible metal in the front of the sole or toe. If they are shiny and unused there is a good chance they are for show, if they are scratched up and work I am going to look for other things to colaborate my profile like chain, studs, and folding box cutters, prison/racist tattoos. 99.9% wear this stuff for show, the ones that don't are easy to spot.

I would say that approx 80% of people refuse to make eye contact with me. The 20% that do are almost always obvious good guys or bad guys. Again- just some thoughts- George

People hate rules, even with they volunteer to follow them




Hopefully most will agree that I am pretty fair when cops are justified in their actions or at fault, as well as sharing the amazing things they do for people every day.

Unless you are in job that requires to enforce rules upon others you really have no understanding of how angry people become with those enforcing rules, no matter how small.

A person just walking down the sidewalk mind minding their own business is the right not to stop for the police or be forced to show identification.  This because safe passage in public places is a civil right.  The problem comes when people want to exercise privileges such as driving or going to a bar.

When you sign for your drivers license, you are in fact signing a contract that you are aware and will conform to that states motor vehicle law.  The one thing they usually point out and even usually require an additional signature for requires you to submit to a test of breath / and or blood if you are involved in a motor vehicle crash involving serious physical injury and or death to another.  Nobody, including me likes to be pulled over by the police for a traffic infraction because they think they are right.  The bottom line is that if you want to enjoy that privilege you increase you exposure to the states rules.

What caused me to write this was my experience as a bouncer.    Most will agree that in most circumstances a drinking age of 21 is a good idea, or at leas as long as it does not effect them.

As people walk up to the door, my partner and I greet them and ask to see their ID.  Now everyone knows that you need to have an ID to enter a establishment that sells alcohol and that it is a the States rule, not ours, but you would never know it.

The majority of people are in the process of getting it out when they approach us.  But we also get these responses-

"Are you serious"
"I was here last night"
"Don't you remember me"
"I know (insert name of person we don't know)"
"Why do you need it can't you see that I am (insert age)"
"I am older than you"
"I don't have it"
"It is in the car"

People get very belligerent instead of just showing ID.  They become even angrier when we said "Have a good night"  and they say "What"  and we say "We are not comfortable letting you into our establishment because you be came hostile when ask to follow a state rule you were aware of when you were sober.  That means that once you drink and we ask you to follow house rules you are not familiar with there is going to be a bigger problem."  That often forces them to change their tune since they are part of a group and want to go in.

Just like cops, people take advantage of or take their chances with the mood and professionalism of the individual.  People yell, curse, and threaten you when asked to comply with the smallest rules that by their participation in an activity or physical location requires them to do so.  In all these cases if tables were turned and the officer/bouncer initially spoke to them they way they just did they would be the first one running to make a complaint.

Keep this in mind when dealing with those whose job it is to enforce laws and rules.

27 August 2014

Attacked by a skateboard, justified deadly force?

An ongoing theme in America seems to be what justifies the use of deadly force by both police and citizens.  The generally agreed upon definition of deadly force is any force that is likely to cause serious permanent physical injury or death.  Some mistakenly believe that an attacker needs to have a gun for the cop or citizen to be justified in shooting them.  This is absolutely not the case.

Recently, an attack really hit home for me.  You can read about it here.  Basically, a local fella was walking across a bank parking lot around 10:44 at night along with his pregnant wife.  Three subjects began to verbally harass his wife calling her a "fat ass" among other things.  The victim told them to knock it off at which point they confronted him.  During this confrontation, he was struck in the head with a skateboard.  After he was down and unconscious, a black male produced a gun and punched him in the head several more times.  The primary suspect who is 18 is in custody and the investigation continues.  The victim is in a coma and is not expected to survive.  So, now his unborn child will be fatherless.

The reason I know so much about this is that it happened in my town, or in town from where I live.  The American Legion of which I am a Legionnaire, as well as a Legion Rider, is next door to the Wells Fargo.  Last week I was there four times and that lot is where I park my bike.  Just minutes ago I got back from my buddy's computer shop which is on the same block.  The area even at night, being part of the town square, is well lit.

This has caused me to play the scenario over and over again in my head.  Here are my thoughts for the citizen, both armed and unarmed.

People that frequent the area, especially the Legion, said that they would have shot him.   I explained that chances are it would not be an option.  See those that carry guns often like to conjure up fantastical scenarios where there is some kind of a stand off that allows for a red light / green light reaction.  The skateboard being an impact weapon, usually swung with two hands, requires that the attacker be very close.  If you are likely enough to see it coming, it will appear as a blur and you might not even process that anything is being swung at you.  Bottom line is that once you are in a close contact confrontation you need open hand skills and the first thing you need to protect is your head.

Can you imagine if this 18 year old was black and the person attacked was a white police officer who shot and killed him, or even just punched him in the face?  The story would read "White police officer severely injures / shoots black teen who he says "attacked" him with a skateboard.  Now, after reading the above story, you have a better context and understanding of what any impact weapon could do.

Interpersonal violence is misunderstood by our society including law enforcement leadership.  There is absolutely no such thing as "unarmed".  Also don't delude yourself by thinking that since you mind your own business, are old, a woman, handicapped, or whatever that you will not be targeted.  Those are the things that predators look for.  Remember- AWARENESS-AVOIDANCE- AGGRESSION


24 August 2014

Anatomy of a suicide by police

This video has gone viral because it happened only four miles or so where Michael Brown was killed in Ferguson MO.  This shooting however is nothing more than a textbook suicide by police.

As the video starts you see the subject pacing in front of a store after stealing some low cost items including two sodas.  As the subject filming gets closer you can see that the subject has neatly placed the two cans of soda on the curb and paces around then.  He was obvious about stealing the items because he knew that it would prompt police to respond.  Pacing next to the sodas was done so that the he would be easily identified as the suspect.  As he paces he displaces on of the principle characteristics of an armed person when he has his hand concealed in his right pocket as if he is holding something as his left arm swings naturally.

He responds to the arrival of the police by walking towards them, still with his right right hand in his pocket and tells the officers to "shoot him already" he says this because he believes in his own mind that he has acted in a way that he believes should caused the police to shoot him.  As they give there own verbal commands while drawing down on him, he again moves closer and they shoot him.

The first time I saw this video it was not clear that he had deployed a knife just before being shot, even then I said that this was a clean shooting.  His actions as the police pulled up, keeping his hand in his pocket, ignoring verbal commands, and continuing to move towards the officers makes a case for depraved indifference.  Basically that any reasonable people would conclude that if they keep their hand in their pocket after being told to show their hands and walk towards that officer would likely get them shot.  After finding out that subject did in fact produce a knife only shows his dedication to having the police kill him.  Officers are often used as a suicide method, because people are fully aware of how police will respond to a given situation.

Subsequent investigation will likely reveal that Powell had a history of drug/alcohol abuse and/or mental health issues.