With thousands of travelers soon expected to descend upon South Florida for spring break, the Fort Lauderdale Police Department is teaming up with restaurants and hotels in the area to prevent sexual assaults.
The Bar Watch Program started in 2019 and has since educated hundreds of local employees on how to identify potentially troubling situations and how to act, the department said.
“I have intervened before, but this was a really good asset to give us better tools for people who may not be as forthcoming as I tend to be," said bartender Ryan James.
About one in six women in Florida have been raped in their lifetimes, according to the Florida Council Against Sexual Violence. Perpetrators often take advantage of victims at bars with date rape drugs like GHB or ketamine.
“It’s making sure all of our team members working in that particular environment that they’re trained and aware of the signs and know what to do in case they do see something," said Bob Pallay of Riverside Hotel.
Police recommend spring breakers to do the following to help protect themselves:
- Travel in groups
- If you feel something is wrong, trust your instincts
- Watch your drink at all times
- Be aware of your surroundings
- Don't feel obligated to do anything you're uncomfortable doing