Security measures are being boosted and safety procedures reworked by District of Columbia clubs, bars and restaurants in the wake of the terror attack in Orlando.
The D.C. Nightlife Hospitality Association is organizing a two-day workshop for security training to be hosted in July, instructing owners on how they can better protect their establishments from “soft target” attacks. Popular gay clubs and bars in the District have already implemented stricter security measures, banning backpacks on the premises and posting door monitors during business hours, reports WJLA.
“I’ve thought about us being a target in the past, unfortunately, now it’s come to be a reality,” Freddie Lutz, owner of Freddie’s Beach Bar and Restaurant in D.C., told WJLA. “For me, the transgender community feels extremely safe here, the military people from the Pentagon feel safe here, and we want to keep it that way.”
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. Officials warn terror attacks like Sunday’s in Orlando are very difficult to defend against and require constant vigilance from staff and patrons, reports WUSA9.
“If you see something say something,” Mark Lee, executive director for the D.C. Nightlife Hospitality Association, told WUSA9. “All public spaces are vulnerable today, and Washington is no exception. But what’s different here is we’re taking steps all the time to ensure the public’s safety as much as possible.”
The D.C. Nightlife Hospitality Association organized a gathering of restaurants, bar and club owners with officials from the FBI and the Department of Homeland Security in January. The tragic terrorist attacks in Paris in November, which targeted social settings, prompted the gathering.
The terror attack at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando that left 50 dead, including the gunman, and 53 wounded, is reinforcing the need to urgently review security measures in the District. Owners of three of the largest gay bars and nightclubs in the city released a statement on the Orlando attack and what it means for security at their establishments.
“While we have a number of policies and procedures in place that we do not discuss publicly as divulging those details would undermine there effectiveness, we will share that we have relied on a long history of substantial nightclub experience to organize and plan our systems of security and safety including staffing and architectural design.,” read the statement. “We are heartbroken by what has happened in Orlando. It is shocking and jarring and sad beyond words.”
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