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A Senate committee unanimously approved a bill Tuesday that would require training of bouncers and "security personnel" at bars and lounges. The Senate Judiciary B Committee sent to the Senate floor Senate Bill 234 by Sen. Gary Smith, D-Norco, that would require the bouncers to be trained under the state's Responsible Vendor Program, which has been in place for more than a decade and requires the training of servers, bartenders and other bar personnel.
Smith said the bill applies to liquor outlets "where alcoholic beverages are the principal commodity sold for consumption on the premises." Smith said he filed the bill after a handful of headline-grabbing cases in the New Orleans area in which security personnel at bars were involved in violent confrontations with customers.
The bill does not spell out how many hours the security workers have to take or what the subject matter of the courses would be.
Those decisions would be made by the commissioner of the Office of Alcohol and Tobacco Control, but the course work must include "handling disruptive customers and customer altercations," Smith said.
The bill defines security personnel as employees who "monitor the entrance and other areas of an establishment for the purposes of identifying underage and intoxicated persons, enforcing establishment rules and regulations" and providing overall security for the outlet and its customers.
"There is nothing in law to train security personnel" at bars now, Smith said. "We are seeing more and more of an increase in security personnel using excessive force" at lounges.
The bouncer or security personnel will not only have to take the regular server training course and be able to recognize when a patron is too drunk to be served, but will also be trained to handle tense situations.
"He will try to diplomatically remove someone," said Chris Young, a lobbyist for alcoholic beverage outlets. He said the courses should include "how to prevent altercations instead of putting someone in a chokehold and dragging them out of the establishment."
The cost of the training course cannot exceed $50, according to the bill.