Nightclub Chain Installs Courthouse-Style Security Measures

A walk-through metal detector, security cameras, increased police presence and new security procedures will greet guests at the door of Touch, the upscale Strip District nightclub where eight people were shot late Sunday night.

Pittsburgh police say that five days after the shooting, described by witnesses as a melee right out of the gangland movie "Scarface," there have been no arrests made, no charges filed, no warrants issued and the case is still under investigation. Sheridan Broadcasting's urban dance radio station WAMO, which sponsored Sunday's dance, has cancelled tomorrow's live broadcast from the club.

In a letter to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Thomas Jayson, owner of the Pittsburgh entertainment empire that includes Touch, outlined plans for increased security measures at all of his facilities and expressed concern for the victims.

"Certainly it is very disheartening that a deranged individual decided to commit such a terrible act in Touch," wrote Mr. Jayson. "Certainly we made every reasonable attempt to provide adequate security. ... We are increasing our security at all of our locations. ... After this incident, we are installing walk-through metal detectors at all of our nightclubs. ... Hopefully the victims will make a full recovery. Our prayers go out to the individuals who were injured and their families."

Tom Barnes, a 30-year employee of Mr. Jayson and operations manager of his facilities, said the increased security measures had been installed at Touch as of yesterday.

"We've installed a walk-through metal detector that cost about $5,000 and installed a camera surveillance system that ran about $3,500," he said. "We've added one extra policeman inside the club, bringing the number to five.

"Every half hour, management will go to all security stations to verify [security presence]. All employees, including entertainers, will be required to walk through security. And each night we'll scan the room, turning over furniture if we have to, to confirm nothing was planted there the previous night."

Mr. Barnes said similar security improvements are under way at all of Mr. Jayson's other night spots: Matrix, Sports Rock Cafe, Tequila Willie's, Level, Panama Jack's, Riverwatch and Crazy Horse Saloon.

A new place, Crow Bar, which is set to open in about five weeks above Sports Rock in the Strip District, will have similar security features.

Once the planned security systems are in place at all of Mr. Jayson's venues, said Mr. Barnes, they'll exceed those of most local night spots. He says he's deeply "disappointed" about the Touch shooting.

"I'm responsible for that place," said Mr. Barnes. "I've worked for Tom for 30 years and have responsibility for day-to-day operations at his places. Touch nightclub is doing a hip-hop crowd, and just as if you're doing Southern rock 'n' roll, you could have a lot of fights. It's that kind of crowd."

Mr. Barnes said he had put "my personal touch" on Touch's security apparatus the night of the shooting.

"We had 18 security personnel," he said. "Four city police officers that I brought in myself, not required by law. We had three other managers here from other locations, so we had a lot of experience. Believe me, we were making an effort, patting people down, we had wands, we even had cops at the back door."

Before the new security improvements, said Mr. Barnes, the nightly security expense at Touch approached $2,500.

"At all the other places, total, security doesn't cost that much," he said.


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