9 Investigates

Security enhanced at some Orlando nightclubs

ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. — Some downtown nightclubs are taking security one step further because of the Pulse mass shooting in June that killed 49 people and injured 53 others.

Eyewitness News has reported before that some clubs have already started to “wand” patrons and proposals to add concrete barriers to block off streets.

Investigative reporter Daralene Jones learned new technology could help keep track of who's inside venues.

There are new strict requirements to get into Beachum nightclub, 9 Investigates learned.

Everyone waiting in line has to go through a pat down with a security wand. Now there is a thorough ID check that uses electronic scanners that some might consider intrusive.

The owner, John Sanfelippo, told 9 Investigates he was forced to gradually phase in the added security because he said he feared yet another layer of security would run off patrons.

“It gives us knowledge of who's in the building. So, later on if there's an investigation, take Pulse, for instance, the police would be able to use that database to track down everyone who was in the building,” Sanfelippo said.

When a person’s ID is scanned with the device, everything embedded on a driver’s license is registered on the computer. Name, address, ID expiration date, date of birth, enough information to identify a person if needed.

9 Investigates found out the ID scan reader is expensive like metal detectors and wanding. It’s part of the added protection Orlando Police Chief John Mina is strongly suggesting.

“What we mean by that, is more than one just extra off-duty officer, more than just one or two private security. And some clubs, I believe, need metal detectors, wanding and pat downs,” Mina said.

Since January, a city task force has been reviewing downtown nightlife, including safety and security. Orlando City Council will see a draft of the recommendations this month.

What it will not include is requirements for off-duty officers, metal detectors, wanding or even ID scans.

“Why can't the city put the hammer down and say look if you want to do business in the city of Orlando, you have to do x, y, z to keep our people safe?” Jones asked.

“The context of where I feel is really making sure is, whatever position the city takes, that each individual business owner has the optimal plan for their individual business,” said David Barilla with the city of Orlando.

Mina told 9 Investigates that New Orleans has used the ID swipe program and it has been successful.

9 Investigates will monitor the recommendations from the downtown task force. Another idea coming from nightclub owners is the use of clear trash cans throughout downtown to keep someone from stuffing it with explosives that go unnoticed.