New York City’s restaurants, bars and clubs adhere to many strict guidelines to keep patrons safe, from food safety to health and building inspections and now, for some, what to do in an active-shooter situation.
A “Safe Night Out” training video was developed by the NYPD for the NYC Hospitality Alliance, which has 2,000 member establishments across the five boroughs, after the mass shooting at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando, Florida, in June 2016. It was released on Monday, the day after 26 parishioners were gunned down in a Texas church and five weeks after 58 people were fatally shot at a country music festival in Las Vegas.
“I think Orlando really hit everyone upside the head and caused a lot of concern, especially when you have a mass gathering of people there with their guard down to enjoy themselves,” said Paul Seres, a principal at The DL on the Lower East Side and Alliance board member.
While the NYPD has active-shooter training for schools and workplaces, there wasn’t something specific for the hospitality industry, Inspector Thomas Conforti of the Crime Prevention Bureau said.
“Even though a tactical response is generally the same in the sense of the initiative of what has to get accomplished in one of these tragic instances, the environment and atmosphere is substantially different, especially in nightlife with huge crowds and dimly lit conditions,” he added. “We thought it would be important to focus on that industry.”
The training mirrors that for schools and offices, but is “more specific in how we can be really preventive,” Conforti said. “A lot of that has to do with being hyper-sensitive to observations that employees can make and make determinations on.”
The active-shooter training includes developing and implementing action plans and protocols for each establishment’s employees.
“Ultimately, they’re the ones there before the police and first responders get to the location, they’re the ones that are going to have to initiate the response to it,” Conforti said.
Though two of the deadliest mass shootings in U.S. history occurred within the past two months, they’ve been a threat for “the last 10 years or so,” Conforti said. “The reality is we want people to go out and enjoy themselves and continue living life the way it is, but just always be cognizant that if something would happen, how would you leave? What’s the closest exit? Unfortunately, I think with all the recent events, many people do that automatically.”
Andrew Rigie, executive director of the NYC Hospitality Alliance, agrees.
“People need to go to work, live their life, go out to eat and drink and enjoy themselves, but as New Yorkers, we also have to have an elevated consciousness of our surroundings,” he said. “By providing this training on an ongoing basis, it reinforces a basis of that.”