Two days after a gunman entered an Orlando, Florida, gay nightclub and opened fire, killing 49 people and injuring 53, Las Vegas police said they are increasing patrols in the resort corridor and near LGBT hangouts and upgrading their counterterrorism readiness.
“We adjusted and re-allocated some already on-duty resources; we also called in some off-duty resources to physically make a presence at every single one of our clubs yesterday (Sunday) and at the mosques,” Assistant Sheriff Todd Fasulo said Monday.
The intensified presence will be in place for the foreseeable future, Fasulo said, to reassure the community and assure nightclub and resort managers and security teams that officers are on increased alert. The department has also reached out to taxi and ride share operators for help identifying and reporting suspicious behavior, he added.
Citing a report from the Department of Homeland Security, Fasulo described a potentially “suspicious” person as a loner who stands around paying attention to entrances and exits; someone wearing bulky clothing or sweating profusely; or someone asking questions about security personnel and protocols.
Owners and representatives of Las Vegas clubs have been tight-lipped about what, if any, security changes are being considered following the Orlando tragedy. Multiple calls Sunday and Monday to gay clubs Piranha and Phoenix Bar &Lounge went unanswered. The owner of FreeZone, Russ Taylor, declined to comment on his bar’s security measures.
Officials from the Tao and Hakkasan groups, LAX and Drai’s nightclubs and AEG Live, which operates the Colosseum at Caesars Palace, and the Palms, did not return requests for information or declined to comment. However, Metro reported that officers have been in contact with security staff at all of the major, gay and resort corridor clubs.
“We enjoy a very robust partnership with the hotel industry and private security,” Fasulo said. “That gives us a benefit, because it’s a force multiplier for us on a daily basis.”
Police and security teams will meet Wednesday at a previously scheduled monthly meeting and discuss how to proceed after the Orlando tragedy.
On everyone’s minds are the hundreds of thousands of visitors coming to town this weekend to attend Electric Daisy Carnival at Las Vegas Motor Speedway or to hear presumptive Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump campaign. Insomniac, the production company behind EDC, hadn’t said by press time whether additional security would be in place for the electronic music festival.
“I can tell you that for this coming weekend, we have just about every commissioned officer in this police department working,” Fasulo said.
Yet, the question remains: Is security at these Las Vegas clubs any better than the security in Orlando?
It depends on whom you ask.
“If somebody got that far into the club with a rifle or assault weapon, that means there was no security,” said James Bermudez, a host with Vegas Guy VIP Concierge Service.
“If somebody was bringing in a gun (to a club in Vegas) it would have been stopped at the first checkpoint,” he said, adding that security at the clubs he takes his clients to is like a “low-end (Transportation Security Administration) checkpoint.”
Many Vegas clubs use security wands and pat-downs, and have several phases of security checks before entry, he said.
Bermudez’s colleague, Paul Klink (also a host with Vegas Guy VIP), said the key takeaway from the Orlando shooting is that clubs need at least two security checkpoints for clubgoers to pass through before entering.
“That way there’s at least one more thing before there is access to guest,” Klink said.
Klink said his clients appreciate layered security.
“We even teach our clients what to do in an active shooter situation — how to play dead, and how to take a body and use it to cover their own,” Klink said.
Security consultant Frank Del Marva disagrees with Klink. He said people should do whatever they can to exit the building.
In Las Vegas, he said, the biggest problem with nightclub safety is that security guards aren‘t identifiable by their uniforms and their training is inadequate.
That, he says, is likely why representatives of the clubs do not want to discuss security.
Either way, from a business perspective — investing in security can save big dollars in the long run.
“Security should be the number one investment in any club,” said Bermudez, adding that it is a liability for a club to not have enough, robust security.
“The people who got shot, their families are going to sue. The people running away from the shooter are going to sue. Everyone in that club is probably going to sue,” Bermudez said.
And they can.
“I think what you would most likely see is a liability claim against the club — the argument being that the club has a duty of reasonable care to all the entrants,” said Alex Fugazzi, a commercial litigation partner at Las Vegas law firm Snell &Wilmer.
Another possible claim could revolve around the lack of visible and accessible exits, he said.
Although an inspection officer would have had to ensure that a club has an appropriate number of exits to obtain its business license, a locked or blocked club exit could spark a lawsuit, the costs of which, Fugazzi said, are difficult to predict.
Review-Journal writers Dave Hererra and Mike Weatherford contributed to this report. Contact Nicole Raz at firstname.lastname@example.org or 702-380-4512. Find her on Twitter: @JournalistNikki.Contact Kimberly De La Cruz at email@example.com or 702-387-5244. Find her on Twitter: @KimberlyinLV