Nightclub security expert Robert C. Smith teaches defense tactics. All photos courtesy Robert C. Smith.
The tragedy at Pulse Nightclub in Orlando last month unnerved the whole nation, but it left nightclub goersand especially those from the queer community, who have long looked to clubs like Pulse as a refugeespecially terrified. These spaces serve the unique purpose of providing escape and protection from an often hostile outside world; they’re last place you’d expect to have to confront violence, which means that venue owners, security personnel, and fans alike are often unprepared for it when it happens. Fortunately, there are some who are working to keep you safe, and to stop tragedies like this from ever happening again.
Robert C. Smitha former police officer from San Diego and the founder of the Nightclub Security Consultantsis one of them. In 1998, while still on the police force, he arrested a bouncer for assaulting a rowdy bar-goer. Robert was shocked at how easily the altercation could have been prevented with a bit of simple training, and started his company the same year to “assist operators to create the environment to allow for good times and safety. “ For the past 18 years, Robert has trained nightclubs and security personnel all across the country, and has even helped write legislation in California requiring bouncers to complete 16 hours of on-the-job trainingin fields like Weapons of Mass Destruction and Terrorism Awarenessbefore they’re licensed to operate permanently in the job. These days, he regularly lectures to the public on matters ranging from Fake IDs to how to deal with active shooters.
The Nightclub Security Consultants offer classes and training courses online and in the state of California, but Robert was willing to give us some free advice in the name of making clubs safer worldwide, barring tighter restrictions on gun ownership in countries like the U.S. We spoke about the importance of preparedness and a couple of other tips to keep venues safe.
THUMP: You got your start because you had to arrest a bouncer on an assault chargecan you tell me more about that?
Robert C. Smith: It was in San Diego, 98. I was a police officer. don’t exist. Don’t fool yourself into thinking it couldn’t happen to you, no matter where you are.