Some bars, bouncers, not following new rules
CTV Southwestern Ontario
Published Tuesday, May 17, 2011 7:05PM EDT
Ontario's security industry has been revamped over the past few years, and gone are the days when if you had the right 'look' you could control the doors.
Instead, there are new requirements for bouncers at nightclubs and bars, but Ontario Provincial Police say not everyone is following the rules.
Under the Private Security and Investigative Services Act, bouncers are considered security guards. As such they are required to pass a mandatory test, undergo annual criminal record checks and newcomers must also complete 40 hours of ministry approved training.
In addition, businesses that directly employ security staff must register with the province.
The changes come as the need for security at bars and nightclubs remains constant.
Waterloo Regional Police Insp. Greg Lamport says "Every Thursday, Friday and Saturday night we can pretty well be guaranteed that we are going to be dealing with alcohol-related situations."
But not all bouncers, who are the first line of defence for the crowds, are following the rules, nor are the companies they work for.
OPP Staff Sgt. Rick Lepage of the Anti-Rackets Branch says "The security guard must understand their ability to use force, and if they use excessive force, that they are criminally liable for that force as well."
The changes in regulations were sparked in large part by the 1999 death of 31-year-old Patrick Shand, who suffocated while being held down by security guards outside a Mississauga, Ont. grocery store.
According to Lepage, the new regulations are there to increase public safety and set standards for the security industry.
"We have taken a strict is fair approach this year," he says. "And have identified six or seven offenses for which there will be no warnings."
Early in May, OPP officers conducted a security blitz in Waterloo Region, hoping to improve compliance with the new rules, and avoid situations where a mix of alcohol and bad tempers can lead to violence.
OPP say ten of the 11 establishments inspected did not meet the province's security standards.
Forty-two charges were laid in total, for offences like working as an unlicenced security guard, hiring unlicensed security guards and uniform violations.
Revolution Nightclub and The Flying Dog are co-managed clubs located next to each other and are among the largest in the region. OPP say that's where they handed out the highest number of charges, 16 in total.
The charges have yet to be proven in court and the owners of Revolution and The Flying Dog did not return repeated interview requests.
Some others who were hit with charges during the blitz were willing to speak with CTV, and say they were caught off guard.
Scott Dwyer, manager of The Fox and the Fiddle, says "Usually you would get a warning and then maybe get ticketed, but there was no warning, and somebody came in and just ticketed four people in here."
Titanium Nightclub manager Ashaley Adams says "They issued the fine, and basically stated that if we got it done on Monday, things might be better…Obviously getting a fine that could potentially be $250,000, you're in shock and it's scary."
Brian Dowding works at The Fox and the Fiddle and has been a bouncer for seven years, he says they were unprepared.
When the OPP visited during the blitz, they found his licence had been expired for months.
"I've already gone through the security course, it's just the fact of doing the test. I'm trying to gather up the money to try and do it."
While the test will cost Dowding about $60, if convicted on the OPP charges, he could face a maximum fine of $25,000 and a year in custody. OPP, however, say nobody has been forced to pay the maximum penalty.
At Chainsaw Saloon, bouncer Brian Scheid was also charged, for not wearing his licence number or nametag on his uniform.
"It was a real shock to me, especially because they said it was on the test, but you never got any of the answers back from the test."
Scheid has since found a way to follow the rules and was wearing his licence number when CTV stopped by for an interview.
Coming up in part two: A look at the training and testing bouncers are now required to complete, how the rules have changed the industry and whether bouncers think the new program is really useful.