New law requires La. bouncers to take crash course in diffusing situations

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wwltv.com

Posted on July 31, 2012 at 10:16 PM

Updated Tuesday, Jul 31 at 11:09 PM

Scott Satchfield / Eyewitness News
Email: ssatchfield@wwltv.com | Twitter: @satchfield

NEW ORLEANS -- In such a highly concentrated area of partying, club owners say security personnel often face tense, alcohol-fueled situations.

Moving forward, bouncers and doormen on Bourbon Street, and across the state, must go through training to learn how best to handle those very moments.

"Any amount of training is good. I know some of the guys up and down the street tend to get a little rough sometimes, and that's not good,” said Tropical Isle Owner Earl Bernhardt.

Bernhardt’s staff is already required to attend training sessions. He said his club sees few problems.

"We don't allow our people to put their hands on 'em. We just try to get 'em out of the bar peacefully,” he said.

But an incident outside one Bourbon Street club in 2004 led to the death of a 26-year-old college student, although charges against several bouncers were ultimately dropped.

And as we reported last year, bouncers from another club were accused of excessive force against members of a wedding party.

Now, club owners like Robert Watters, who also heads up the Bourbon Street Business Alliance, welcome the new training mandate.

"I think that the consensus of owners on Bourbon Street, is that consistency in training is a good idea and that a heightened level of training will be positive for this street,” said Rick’s Cabaret Owner Robert Watters. “Bourbon Street is an entertainment street, and it's probably the most popular entertainment street in America, and so therefore we have a tremendous volume of people on the street, and having good people control that activity is a great idea."

Watters said his security personnel also has its own training, but again, this new measure looks to implement a more consistent level of training for all clubs.

The state's alcohol and tobacco commissioner will oversee this program.

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