You may recall a few years ago when law enforcement initiated a “zero tolerance” policy against drunk driving. The concept of zero tolerance first gained national recognition in 1963 when the Federal Drug Administration (FDA) announced that the insecticide Heptachlor was highly toxic and declared a “zero tolerance” ban on the product and as a result the phrase was coined.
Once again the term is trending and this time it relates to drink-tampering. Popular street drugs and prescription pain killers have made their way into the shadows of the clubs where they end up in the drinks of unsuspecting patrons intending to impair or disable them.
Owning or operating a business serving alcoholic beverages certainly has its challenges and staying on top of staff and security isn’t always easy. In addition to drink-tampering, customer safety should be of paramount importance and can only be accomplished by managements awareness of the problem and addressing a plan to deal with it. Having the right people in place is essential. When you focus on creating a positive atmosphere, patrons will feel more comfortable in their environment. Security and staff personnel should be properly trained and vigilant in detecting subjects that are secretly introducing drugs or chemicals into the drinks of patrons. For this reason, a zero tolerance policy must exist and be strictly enforced.
Drug Facilitated Crimes
Creating and enforcing a zero tolerance policy on drink-tampering in all establishments is essential. The public must be educated that tampering with a drink is a serious crime that will not be tolerated and swift criminal prosecution will follow if the policy is violated. Policies are in place to impose a pre-determined punishment, whether it be mild or severe, the punishment remains the same.
Why These Crimes Happen
There are various reasons why these types of crimes occur. Most commonly they are used to facilitate a sexual assault, a robbery or even a practical joke. Regardless of the purpose the result is always the same – an impaired, vulnerable patron that ends up being the perfect target for victimization.
Most substances used in drug-facilitated crimes are fast acting central nervous system depressants that mimic severe alcohol intoxication. The effects of mixing alcohols with pharmaceuticals can be unpredictable and may result in euphoria, lack of inhibition, amnesia, impaired judgement, loss of mobility and unconsciousness.
Some of the most common drugs used in drink-tampering are GHB (Gamma Hydroxybutyrate), Ketamine and Rohypnol. However, in recent years other disabling drugs like “Molly”, “Ecstasy” and other various prescription pain-killing drugs have also made their way into drinking establishments.
Following are tips you can implement to help safeguard patrons:
Create an environment in your establishment that shows people that you care. Use coasters and napkins with messages that promote awareness and safety. Being visible will let your patrons know they are drinking in a safe environment and encourages them to return.
Implement a Training Program For Staff
Implement a structured training program for your staff and equip them with the knowledge necessary to identify suspicious activity and solutions to handle it. This is best done by enlisting the services of a firm or organization that can train members of your staff. Trained staff will know what to look for and understand how to resolve situations that arise.
Reduce Liability, Violence and Underage Drinking
Employing bouncers, doormen and other security personnel will reduce criminal activity as well as improve the overall safety in the establishment. It further sends a message that crime, in any form will not be tolerated.
Underage drinking in establishments serving alcohol is a concerning problem that brings with it many risks --- not the least being legal woes that can result in stiff penalties and possible closure of the business. Vigilant screening to detect underage patrons is absolutely necessary if you intend to stay in business.
Knowing what policies to implement can be challenging. Focus on developing a policy manual for staff members that deals with the subject of drink-tampering. Train all new employees on the subject and schedule regular refresher training courses. Explain and emphasize the importance of zero tolerance when it comes to drink-tampering and make patron safety an integral part of your company mission.
Avoid Overserving Patrons
We’ve all seen what happens when someone consumes too much alcohol and exceeds their limits. It’s management’s responsibility to recognize when patrons have had too much to drink and take appropriate action. Over-serving can easily result in an extraordinary level of impairment that leaves patrons particularly vulnerable to a drug-facilitated crime. Be sure to set and enforce drink limits for patrons and integrate this point in your policy manual.
Educating staff members and patrons will ensure the safety of patrons. Only through education and personal vigilance will patrons be able to drink responsibly and safely in your establishment.
Founded in 2013 by Inspirational Speaker Lou Figueroa, Guard Your Drink has received national attention by chambers of commerce, business associations and non-profit organizations across the globe. Figueroa, a victim of a tampered drink himself, shares how he encountered a beverage that was laced with an unknown substance while out with a group of friends. After experiencing a rapid onset of intoxication, Lou stumbled into the darkness of the night walking 2 miles before finally ending up in the union station rail yard in Denver Colorado. It was approximately three in the morning when two conductors of the BNSF railway were approaching the station when they noticed what appeared to be something laying across the tracks. As they drew closer, they realized that a victim had been struck by a previous coal train that had passed through about 15 minutes prior. In a frantic effort to help Lou, they extracted his body from the tracks and rushed him to Denver General Health. It was unknown as to what exactly happened from the time Lou encountered the drink, to the time that he was found in the rail yard. Hospital staff and police officers were baffled by the accident but were amazed that Lou had survived such a tragic event. One week later, Lou awoke from a coma to the sight that both legs had been amputated.
Lou realized that he had a greater purpose in life and wanted to share his experience to help other people understand the dangers of alcohol and party drugs. He set out on a mission to educate people on covering their drinks and watching out for friends in social environments. In 2014, Lou met a business executive who manufactured a very unique coaster that had the ability to detect the presence of GHB and Ketamine, the two most popular forms of club drugs. Lou collaborated with the man to design a special coaster that reads "This Is NOT Your Drink". The coasters can be used as both a talking piece with college bound students and a deterrent for would-be drink spikers in clubs and social settings. Lou's message is valuable for any concerned parent or business owner as the growing trend in bars and restaurants is to create a zero tolerance drinking zone for bar patrons. To learn more tips on safety visit www.guardyourdrink.com