MLBA launches new de-escalation program

The Michigan Licensed Beverage Association introduced a program to teach restaurant and bar staff how to de-escalate a situation.
Published: Jul. 15, 2020 at 5:43 PM EDT
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LANSING, Mich. (WILX) - A new program launched by the Michigan Licensed Beverage Association could prevent future confrontations about wearing a face mask.

Dealing with difficult customers is something bar and restaurant owners are used to.

With Governor Whitmer’s executive order requiring Michigan to mask up, MLBA Executive Director Scott Ellis tells News 10 it’s now something they should be more prepared for.

“Society is so charged on every topic nowadays, especially with masks and social distancing and this whole pandemic,” Ellis said, “however, there is no excuse for any of this to escalate beyond just a discussion.”

A man was stabbed at a Quality Dairy in Dimondale during an argument over wearing a face mask.
A man was stabbed at a Quality Dairy in Dimondale during an argument over wearing a face mask. (WILX)

Ellis, who spent 20 years with the Lansing Police Department, reached out to a co-worker in law enforcement to help train restaurant and bar workers.

“The goal is to give them the ability to handle situations verbally, and try to deescalate and prevent anything from happening. Anyone can go through this training. All it takes is compassion and listening,” Ellis said.

American Fifth Spirits owner Mike Garyet says it’s a similar training to what his staff has learned.

"We talk with the staff, to make sure they're doing what they can to listen to the customer. If it gets to the point where we need to ask them to leave, we have some protocols in place for that."

Both Ellis and Garyet want the public to know the restaurants are just following orders.

“Please don’t take your political views and your feelings about masks or no masks out on the person that’s caught in the middle. They’re doing their job to provide a service so that everyone can have a good time,” said Ellis.

“Their safety is important too, they’re people. It’s just a matter of having respect for each other, taking it down a notch and making sure we all stay healthy,” said Garyet.

Ellis tells News 10 there will be a series of webinars to teach these tactics; the first two are for MLBA members, and the rest of them will be available to the public in a couple of weeks.

Copyright 2020 WILX. All rights reserved.

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