Security, in person (out on the town in Chicago)

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05/25/2010

What’s the difference between securing a church and a nightclub?

After a great night out in Chicago coinciding with the PSA-TEC show (I was playing music with Frank Defina early and out with friends late, but us journalists never stop working), I find myself wondering if there’s much difference at all.

The supposition, I think, is that a church’s enemies are easily identifiable. They want to break in and spread graffiti, cause malicious harm just for the sake of it, steal from the collection plate safe.

On the contrary, in a nightclub, the theory might go, it’s more difficult to identify the bad guy, so you need a more sophisticated system, because places with alcohol and darkness and loud music kind of lend themselves toward “bad guys.”

Do you think like that? I think I do at times.

So why is it that the club I go to in Chicago has a patron politely ask me into the man trap that’s part of the entrance to the club, look at the camera, look at me, wait for me to look at the camera, and then ask me a polite question about my work? While a church likely doesn’t methodically screen its patrons at all, and most of its problems come from insiders?

Once I was inside the club, I felt totally safe, knowing everyone in there was being screened and was good people. We talked music and sports and the business of both and drank beer and enjoyed ourselves (by the way, have you ever been to an MP3 swap? Like a record swap, but everyone brings hard drives - it was only mildly illegal). But it was clear the people there were regulars and were actually invested in creating a safe environment. They felt a sense of ownership of the bar they liked to hang out in, beyond the security measures delivered by the ownership.

They were like, “who’s this shady guy from Maine with the big beard who knows a bunch about hip-hop and the NBA?” I could see where they were coming from.

So why would there be a stigma attached to great security at a church, to screen people in a calculated way (not in the same manner, obviously) so as to ensure the safety of all of the parishoners? Maybe there wouldn’t be. Replace church with school or sports stadium or university. Is that how we’re approaching it?

Security should be more about making people feel safe and less about catching the bad guys.

On a side note, it’s about a three-block walk from the blue line stop to the DoubleTree where I’m staying, and on the way you go under a long underpass. I’ve got to say: sketchy! There was decent lighting, but also about 100 places where would-be assailants could hide. I don’t mind telling you that this Mainer was walking awfully quickly through there, with eyes darting, just before midnight last night.

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