On a weekly basis, downtown bar
employees are forced to go hands on with unruly patrons.
Though many Iowa City bar workers have been taught how
to handle these situations, city and bar officials agree
more training is never a bad thing.
Under a proposed bill, high-occupancy bars in Polk
County - which includes the Des Moines area - would
serve as a test pilot for requiring at least one bouncer
to train in anger management and techniques for safely
removing people from bars.
The Polk County pilot project would start Jan. 1, 2009
and end June 30, 2011. A report will be submitted to the
Legislature by Jan. 1, 2011, evaluating the
effectiveness of the pilot project.
In the bill, high-occupancy bars are defined as those
that hold more than 200 people. Many of the downtown
Iowa City bars meet this definition.
Leah Cohen, the owner of Bo-James,
118 E. Washington St., already puts her employees
through some training on fight situations. Her employees
also undergo Training for Intervention Procedures, in
which bartenders and servers learn how to identify and
address an intoxicated person.
"We really urge [employees] not to handle the situation
on their own," Cohen said.
All bouncers at the Industry, 211 Iowa Ave., go through
hands-on training on how to legally and safely remove
people from the building, said Sarah Henningfield, the
bar's general manager.
An experienced bouncer trains each of the Industry's
bouncers for three hours by asking participants to take
turns acting out and responding to rowdy situations.
Under the bill, any time a bar holds an event for which
it charges an admission fee of $5 or more and during
which alcohol is served, at least one person trained in
special security techniques would have to be working.
owa City City Councilor Connie
Champion said the city would most likely welcome the
requirement if it ever spread to Iowa City, but she
noted that she thought the bars currently do a good job
of keeping fights and disorderly customers under
"I know we have problems in our bars," she said. "But
they are very good at calling police when necessary."
Iowa City police Sgt. Troy Kelsay agreed.
"The question is, should it be mandated by state
lawmakers?" he said.
For nearly eight years, some politicians have pushed
this legislation in response to the death of Charles
Lovelady, who died in 2000 after a fight with two Des
The training would also include techniques for safely
removing people, use of force, civil rights, and
recognizing of fake IDs. Lawmakers plan to set aside
$15,000 for the eight-hour training program training
program. The Iowa Workforce Development's division of
labor services would be responsible for the program,
which will cost no more than $50 per person.