Businesses urged to implement exit strategies - WTOC-TV: Savannah, Beaufort, SC, News, Weather & Sports

Businesses urged to implement exit strategies

SAVANNAH, GA (WTOC) -

With assaults and burglaries on the rise, businesses in downtown Savannah have had to adapt to make sure not only the customer is safe, but also their employees.

For the businesses that stay open late, employees may be the only few out on the streets.

Police are urging those businesses to have a closing or exit strategy, since it can be a dangerous time for folks working jobs when they don’t leave until 2 ,3, or 4 a.m. And – oftentimes, they have cash tips on them.

We spoke to several different bar and restaurant staffs who say they are actually in the process of setting up new safety policies.

"It is very difficult. My wife works close to home and it is a very short walk to work, and we do not even feel safe with her walking when it gets dark,” said Teddy Long.

It’s a challenge many face. If you choose to be out late at night, that is your choice, but for some - it is just the nature of the business. Police are urging owners and managers to do everything they can to make sure safety comes first, and they are willing to come to your business and help.

"We can only give suggestions. We can't say you have to do this because in the end, you do not have to,” said Cpl. Dana Purvis, SCMPD. 

"We are having to take extra precautions at night to not only secure our buildings, but secure our staff,” said Brian Huskey, Owner, Gaslight Group.

It’s something they may not have had to think about in the past, but now...

"Just in the past few weeks, we had an incident where two of my employees were held at gunpoint and their car was stolen. Luckily, no one was hurt, but it is that kind of thing we are trying to alleviate,” Huskey said.

Police say the most important thing to do if you work late is to not be alone.  

"Use the buddy system. If those two employees are closing work, they should leave together. You are coming to work together and you are leaving work together,” said Cpl. Purvis. "Do not take shortcuts; do not take alleys."

Better lighting; locked doors; checking the roofs of your business; changing hours - all of these are things owners can do.

Some businesses say they already have policies in place, and because of that, they have hardly any issues.

"We also have a lot of cameras throughout bar that can be accessed remotely. We have been using off-duty police officers since the beginning, and that has been a huge help,” said Emily Dickinson, Wet Willies, VP. 

Dickinson, the Vice President of the popular “Wet Willies” bars, says they have proven strategies and are open to helping others.

"If there are any bar owners or restaurant owners that are out there that want to implement policies, please reach out and we can help and give suggestions,” said Dickinson.

We spoke to about half-a-dozen bars and restaurants, and half of them said they have some sort of exit strategy in place - the other half said they did not.

Police also say if you are closing or opening and ever feel uncomfortable or notice something strange, call them and they will come help.

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