KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — An initiative to turn the narrative of bar culture around is being seen locally. It’s called the Safe Bar initiative and has already been established in Memphis and Nashville.
The Knox County Health Department (KCHD) is partnering with the Sexual Assault Center of East Tennessee, the Title IX Office at the University of Tennessee, and the Family Justice Center to bring the training to East Tennessee. It will provide training to bar staff and help them identify and respond to unhealthy or aggressive behaviors.
Amy Rowling, the KCHD violence prevention health educator said some form of alcohol consumption is involved in 50 percent of sexual assault cases. It was a significant factor the Knox County Health Department took into consideration to launch this initiative.
“We want them to recognize that this does happen in bars and breweries,” she said.
So far, two Knoxville bar has completed the training, Barrelhouse by Gypsy Circus and Saloon 16.
“In restaurants and bars and other venues, there is a perception that some places may not be as safe as others,” Barrelhouse owner, Aaron Carson said.
That perception is what they are hoping to change after completing the Safe Bar training. Carson said they see a few thousand customers per week, so being a safe space in the community is something he values.
“The whole staff is constantly aware and on the lookout, and constantly looking at visual cues. That’s looking at drinks, that’s looking at couples, partnerships or whatever it may be to make sure that everyone feels safe,” Carson said.
With more bars onboard, Rowling said anyone can be helpful when noticing unsafe situations.
“A lot of people watch stuff and just feel like, that doesn’t feel right, but when the bars are trained, it’s a good thing because bartenders will be prepared and you can go up to them and say, ‘something doesn’t look right over there,” said Rowling.
Any business that is looking to get involved in Safe Bar, can contact Amy Rowling by phone at 865-215-5170 or email her at email@example.com. Bars and restaurants that have completed the training will have window cling marking it as a safe place.