Night club owner considers security changes in wake of Orlando tragedy

Since opening Utopia 11 years ago, Earl Winner said he's never once had a problem.

Local clubs are taking a look at their own security efforts to ensure that patrons feel safe.

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) – After the deadliest American mass shooting took place at a gay nightclub in Orlando, some local clubs are taking a look at their own security efforts to ensure that patrons feel safe.

Since opening Utopia 11 years ago, Earl Winner said he’s never once had a problem.

“I opened this place to provide a safe place for the gay and lesbian community. We’ve really had no problems here ever, that I can speak of. We don’t have security people in place here because we really don’t have any problems. But this does make me think twice and now we’re actually going to put security measures in place following the incident that happened in Orlando,” Winner said.

But, some bar managers are changing their polices, if only slightly in the wake of Orlando. It’s something Winner said he’s thought about over the last few months, and now more than ever.

“Checking bags, maybe wanding people that we feel are out of place,” Winner said.

Winner sums up the feelings of some gay bar owners, not wanting to increase security and not wanting to be victimized by this senseless crime.

“I pride myself on the fact that this is a very safe place and everyone feels welcome and no one ever feels threatened, gay, black, white, gay or straight. It’s a safe place,” Winner said.

Security experts say nightclub owners need to have some type of screening process at the door to keep their patrons safe. It’s a thought that many people in Youngstown agree with.

“Safety in numbers, traveling with more than one person so I’m safe if something happened and maybe not even going to a crowded bar for awhile,” said Ray Brown of Youngstown.

“The whole place, the building is on camera, the parking lot is on camera, the inside of the bar is on camera. I don’t think we’re going to have any issues, but you never know,” Winner said.

He also said he’s been to Pulse in Orlando before, and actually felt safe.

People at Utopia expressed their condolences for the victims’ families.

A vigil will be held Monday night at 9:00 p.m. in front of the Mahoning County Courthouse in honor of the victims in Orlando.

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