Last month, Sam Pickel died just days after a bouncer put him in a headlock at the Lodo's Bar and Grill in Westminster.
Now, a former police officer is working to make sure that doesn’t happen to anyone else.
President and CEO of Nightclub Security Consultants Robert Smith is making sure bouncers know their limits.
“That is the biggest lie that bouncers tell themselves constantly is that they were just defending themselves when there was no reason to defend themselves,” said Smith.
Through police academy tactics, Smith demonstrates how to properly deescalate a situation with force, depending on the level of threat.
“Only [use] what you need to stop the threat. So if the threat is a drunk at your door who you’re not letting in because he’s over intoxicated, that’s really not much of a threat,” said Smith.
Many insurance companies pay for the bouncer training because it will save them money in legal costs down the road.
Participants also see clips of what not to do in order to avoid lawsuits later.
“If you use excessive force for anything, you’re going to be in trouble,” Smith told the participants.
In the training bouncers role play with different levels of threat. Those threats range from arguments to all-out fights.
In those role plays, bouncers decide what level of force is needed.
“You can only do what you [think is] needed. And once you go past that, you are no longer defending yourself and you can be held accountable,” said Smith.
Smith shows bouncers how to overcome the natural urge to control a person by restraining their head.
“The head or the neck are dangerous. People die from the head or neck grabs. They don’t die from a wrist grab. They don’t die from a bear hug,” said Smith.
The bouncers must also protect themselves in dangerous situations, and they’re supposed to do that by monitoring situations early and being proactive before it’s too late.