BouncerOnline Newsletter
The Art Of Nightclub Security October 2007
Man watching video monitorsSurveillance Cameras Are Part Of The Team (Part 2)
Utilizing CCTV to protect liability

There are a wide variety of CCTV camera systems out on the market ranging in price from about $400 and up. And the different prices of the systems doesn't necessarily mean that one has more equipment than the other. Two companies may offer the same amount of equipment such as a 4 camera and monitor system having a $100 to $150 difference in price between each other. Of course you are going to pay more for a brand name, but it's not necessary.

One of the first questions is "How many cameras do I need"? We say the more the better. It's best to limit as many dead spots or blind spots as possible. But areas such as the restrooms and dressing rooms will always remain blind spots, as the law prohibits the use of cameras in these areas for obvious reasons. However, you want to be able to observe a patron from the moment they step foot into the club. If the patron walks to a bar from that point, you want to be able to see every step that the patron makes to get there. After getting their drink from the bar, they then go to the dance floor or other club area. Again each step, including stairs if the club is more than one level, should be on camera. But once they are observed on camera walking into the restroom, further observation stops.

Cameras that are widely used in nightclubs are known as stationary or fixed cameras, meaning that they fix on pointing in one direction of an area and they cannot be remotely moved. So how can a person be observed walking into the club, then to the bar? First we have to mention that there should also be a camera on the front door, so that the Bouncers or Door Hosts can be observed checking IDs and/or conducting pat down searches. You want to see who's coming into the club. Let's call this camera 1 (Cam 1). As the patron walks into the club another camera (Cam 2) inside the club should be on the area of the entrance. Patrons should be observed coming into the club. A 3rd camera (Cam 3) is located near the bar in a way that you are able to see the faces of the patrons ordering and paying for their drinks. It may also be possible for this camera to show the entrance as well, which eliminates the use of a 3rd camera and making this camera (Cam 2) instead.

If the club consist of several rooms, walkways, turns, levels and outdoor areas, again the more cameras you have the better. But utilize them so cameras are not setup every five feet from each other. When they're that visible it will give the patrons the feeling that the club is prone to a lot of trouble and they may not feel safe.

Now that the CCTV system is setup, the most important part will be the recording, documenting and retention of what the cameras capture on tape. Depending on the system you have, there are a few being offered in which you can use with personal computer that stores the information on the hard drive - or use a Digital Video Recorder (DVR) or, and the oldest method, the Video Cassette Recorder (VCR) that is able to record non-stop for a minimum of 24 hours.


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