Photo bu Torrey Bailey
Manny Marqueztorrey bailey
After shootings scathed Orlando’s Pulse in June, Istanbul’s Reina on New Year’s Eve and Playa Del Carmen’s Blue Parrot earlier this month, discussions about armed security have been stirring in the nightlife industry. While Mexican officials have not confirmed whether guards at Blue Parrot Nightclub carried guns, the Pulse bouncer shot at the attacker. Still, that didn’t keep the attack from occurring, and Manny Marquez, vice president of San Diego-based Nightclub Security Consultants, says properly training officers to “run, hide, fight” overshadows a need to equip them with weapons.
“If I see a guy carrying a gun in my way, I run,” he says. “If I’m trapped somewhere, I hide, barricade, and I stay quiet and turn off my cell phone. And the last result, if my back is to the corner, I fight and find makeshift weapons.”
Marquez wonders whether security could have subdued the attack in Orlando this way.
“In the instance of Pulse, [the attacker] reloaded,” Marquez says. “Reloading that magazine, while talking on his cell phone, takes a few seconds. Why didn’t anybody tackle him?”
Generating a course of action for these scenarios is key, he says. For example, his client, Sycuan Casino, periodically conducts staff-wide safety drills so they’re as prepared as they can be for an active shooter situation. But considering the rarity of these attacks, Marquez says hiring armed guards for day-to-day security should be a last resort.
“If you think you need armed security all of the time, then there’s something else systemically wrong with what you’re doing, be it the crowd that you’re attracting or the overall security of the venue as you enter,” Marquez says.
If a San Diego venue owner ignores his advice, Marquez encourages them to select an off-duty police officer over a firearm-permitted private patrol officer because off-duty officers have more experience. However, he says there are still downsides.
“There are a lot of fantastic cops out there doing great jobs, so I say this very delicately. When you use an off-duty officer, you normally get him after an eight- or ten-hour day. He gets a great wage because it’s prime pay, he’s making a little extra money for him and his family, and that’s great. But, you don’t necessarily have an individual who has the capacity or the will to do what he’s supposed to do.”
Hiring armed security could also prompt people to question why an establishment needs someone with a gun.
“We feel there’s just more chances for things to happen with a handgun in the venue that are negative than positive.”