NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) — The Sexual Assault Center said about half of the assaults they see involve alcohol, so they are trying to address the problem at one of its sources by training bars to keep patrons safe.
However, they are struggling to get a majority of bars to welcome them in for a free one to two hour training on how to teach bar staff how to identify signs of assault and harassment and safely intervene.
To some bar managers, not signing up for the SAFE Bar program doesn’t make sense.
“You don’t want to be known as that bar,” said Joe Guerra, Fat Bottom Brewing Director of Hospitality. “As a father, some of the statistics they show you are just downright scary.”
Guerra said the course makes his staff more aware of what is going on around them and between customers.
“It puts it right in front of their face of like, ‘Hey, we need to be careful,'” he said.
The program also hands out date rape drug detector coasters and pamphlets, which make it easy for people to test if there are any common date rape drugs, like ketamine, in a drink.
When asked why other bars aren’t opting to go through the program, Guerra said despite being asked this question “numerous” times, “I can’t give an answer and even when I go on the app to see how many places have been added since we’ve done it…it’s just discouraging.”
In order to spread the word about the program, the Sexual Assault Center hosted an event to inform city leaders and law enforcement about it.
Tia Freeman, director of training and outreach for the Sexual Assault Center, said she wants the event to encourage key stakeholders to buy into the course.
“A lot of times people say it takes a village for raising kids, but I also think it takes a village to keep us safe, so that’s what we are here to do,” Freeman said.
The Metro Council Women’s Caucus said supporting the program financially is one of their priorities for this session.
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“We, as being over 50% of the council, we are saying this is what’s important to us,” said Women’s Caucus Chair Joy Styles. “We are going to push to make sure as many bars on Broadway throughout Davidson County are participating in this program.”
Styles said the Tennessee Alcohol Beverage Commission is supportive of the program and she looks forward to state and local collaborations to encourage more bars to do the training.
If you want to request a SAFE Bar training click here.