Las Vegas nightclubs have avoided casualties like last weekend in Cincinnati when a gunman killed one and injured 17, or last year’s shooting in Orlando where 49 clubgoers were killed.
Security consultant Bob Smith, a retired California police officier who is the president of Nightclub Security Consultants in San Diego, says that could be considered a matter of good fortune. That message was shared by other security advisers at this week’s annual Nightclub and Bar Show at the Las Vegas Convention Center.
Smith said that while nearly all nightclubs on the Las Vegas Strip use metal-detecting machines, wands and perform pat-downs on patrons as they enter the club, people waiting in line at the venue and those gambling in casinos are still “soft targets.”
“If I know behind security in the club is 300 people, but here in line there are also 300 people, I’m opening up right here,” said Smith, who held separate seminars on security guard training and identifying fake IDs at this week’s convention. “If a shooter is going to shoot, they’re going to shoot.”
That sentiment differs from many in the local nightclub industry, one of whom called the Las Vegas scene “very, very safe” last week. Strip properties contacted Tuesday didn’t immediately respond for comment.
Making nightclubs and bars attack-proof can’t be successful “unless we do things we don’t want to do as Americans,” Smith said.
Representatives from ID-scanning-machine companies PatronScan and IDetect argued that nightclub security is best done by providing as much information as possible to club owners about their patrons in the most minimally invasive way possible.
With over 2,000 venues across the globe using their scanning system — including multiple in downtown Las Vegas — machines from the Calgary, Alberta-based PatronScan displays all of the information listed on a person’s identification and their behavioral history across each venue also using the company’s machine. It’s as simple and quick as placing the identification under a scanner.
While the security measures don’t guarantee to stop would-be assailants, they can at least flag people most likely to cause problems for venue managers.
“It’s operating on the security side before someone gets in and also a what’s-happening-in-your-venue side,” said Trevor Thomas, a PatronScan representative. “How many people are in the club, gender and age breakdown and where everybody’s from.”
IDetect President Michael Sengstaken said his system can also send text messages to police alerting of crimes happening in the venue. Those are used by more than 6,000 venues.
The 32nd annual Nightclub and Bar Show featured more than 600 exhibitors and 38,000 attendees from over 50 different countries, many of whom displayed and shopped for the latest drinks, trends and technology in the nightlife scene. The three-day, industry-only trade show concludes today.