Metal detectors, security cameras and an added police presence at nightclubs are being proposed in the wake of recent shootings in San Francisco.
Last month, shootings at and around nightclubs, including the slaying of a German tourist near Union Square, prompted Mayor Gavin Newsom to direct the Police Department to devise a club-security report.
The recommendation included clubs installing security cameras and metal detectors, adding outside lighting and using identification scanners to check every patron who enters the door.
Also, the proposal seeks that club owners pay for more off-duty police officers to patrol the outside premises of clubs, where many of the recent shootings have occurred.
“Things have escalated lately,” Inspector David Falzon said. “Some of this violence is occurring because of people’s autonomy.”
If club patrons are aware that they are being taped and their identification has been scanned upon entrance, they might think twice about being violent, Falzon said.
“I think it’s very reasonable,” he said.
Club owners said they appreciate the concern, but some said there’s hysteria around the issue of club violence.
Barry Synoground, manager of DNA Lounge in the South of Market neighborhood, said he thinks most club owners are hypersensitive about making sure their venues are secure. But, even the most vigilant club owner cannot ensure a violence-free night, he said.
“If there is an event where I believe I might need a metal detector, I will choose to not book that event,” Synoground said. “How often are there assaults at the Giants games? But we don’t say, ‘Gosh, we should have metal detectors at the Giants game.’ That would be horrific PR.”
Newsom — who met with promoters at City Hall on Thursday — said he’s still digesting the new recommendations, trying to balance safety and accountability without killing the entertainment industry with onerous rules.
The mayor said while promoters seem to support security cameras, he agreed with those who say metal detectors might be going too far for San Francisco.
“I just want to be careful not to turn us into a police state,” Newsom said.
The recommendations — which must go before the Entertainment Commission — only hold club owners accountable. Newsom has pointed to “bad apple” party promoters who don’t need a permit to do business in San Francisco.
To fix that, Newsom is working with Supervisor David Chiu’s office to craft legislation that would force party promoters to register with The City.
“This legislation will strengthen our hand as we redouble our efforts to make sure that club parties in The City don’t lead to violence,” Chiu said.
Police focus on club problems
Police are taking steps to curb the nightlife violence that has plagued San Francisco clubs during the past year.
As part of new efforts to increase club security, police plan to appoint a liaison from each district station who will maintain a daily report, noting all of the entertainment-related activity that has occurred within the neighborhood. That report will be forwarded to the Entertainment Commission on the following business day.
In addition, the Police Department will hold a monthly meeting with entertainment commissioners and permitting officers to discuss outstanding issues related to club security.
A club communication phone line will be established, allowing permitted venues to directly contact police officers to share real-time concerns.
“I think the clubs are as equally concerned as The City is, and I think they are realizing they have got a pretty good handle of what’s happening inside their club. The problem is what’s going on outside their club,” said David Falzon, an inspector with the San Francisco Police Department.
— Erin Sherbert