Following the Orlando massacre at Pulse, a gay nightclub, the owners and managers of gay bars and bathhouses in West Hollywood met with representatives of the L.A. police and fire department to talk about measures they can take to prevent and address potential future attacks.
The meeting was coordinated and hosted by the L.A. LGBT Center. In the opening presentation, Terri Slavin said, “Bar and clubs have a big impact on our community and have been a sanctuary for us.” In attendance were individuals from various establishments, including The Abbey, Micky’s, Bullet Bar, Akbar, and more.
L.A. Police Commander Blake Chow said that attacks are more likely based on discrimination and hate towards a group by one or more individuals who have met over social media. “It’s hard for law enforcement because there’s no financial network, no religious ties necessarily.”
Speakers emphasized attentiveness and alertness regarding the activity of those in and outside these bars and clubs, promoting the “If you see something, say something” approach.
The department also provided a 31-page document entitled “Best Practices for Nightlife Establishments” that covers a variety of plans from evacuation to ideal security-patron ratios.
In addition to preventative measures, deputies and West Hollywood bar owners have also been meeting to work on plans for actual attacks. Managers, for instance, received coaching on identifying hiding places and escape routes.
These efforts aren’t only being directed at gay bars and clubs. Captain Perez said the Sheriff’s Station is also providing “active shooter training” to employees at the Oprah Winfrey Network as well.
While unfortunate that such an meeting has become necessary, the collaborative work between law enforcement and these businesses will hopefully foster a stronger sense of security, as well as efforts towards protecting the LGBT community.