Restaurant and bar owners in Washington, D.C., gathered with officials from the FBI and the Department of Homeland Security to learn how they can better prepare security for their establishments in the shadow of terrorist threats.
The D.C. Nightlife Hospitality Association convened a briefing with the federal agencies in January to learn how they can amend their safety procedures to better protect against possible terrorist attacks. Authorities say despite the litany of high profile targets in the District, they must be vigilant about “soft targets,” such as bars and night clubs, where there is virtually no defensive security, reports WUSA9.
“I think the biggest thing and probably the most eye opening was that they actually brought up video from ISIS and Al-Qaeda that specifically asks their people to target D.C.,” Bill Duggan, owner of Madam’s Organ bar, told WUSA9.
“They started going into they needed our floor plans, they needed lines of succession and I’m like, come on, I’m a blues bar,” he added. “I’m not a platoon leader charging hamburger hill. This is just crazy.”
Officials hosting the event stressed there are currently no credible threats to Washington, D.C., and there is no reason to believe District bars and restaurants face greater threats from terrorist then any other sites in the capital like monuments or the transit system. Mark Lee, Executive Director for the D.C. Nightlife Hospitality Association, said it’s about being prepared, given the events unfolding around the world, reports The Washington Post.
The tragic terrorist attacks in Paris in November 2015 prompted the gathering. Terrorists focused on soft targets, showing the need to address security measures at social establishments. Lee hopes the briefing will spur action from businesses across the city. His organization advocates every establishment create a overall plan for staff in an emergency and designate a point person to deal with aiding police. Some business owners said the meeting seemed over the top.
Despite the fear caused by the Paris attacks and the recent bombings in Brussels, many business owners in the District say residents cannot let terror impact their daily life. Others seem completely unfazed by the January 19 briefing and possible threats.
“The best thing we can do is just keep on living,” Kirsten Feyling, a District resident told The Washington Post. “It’s going to be fine.”
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