How driver’s license scanners could serve as a security tool for South Side bars and restaurants

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PITTSBURGH —

A conversation is continuing among South Side bars and restaurants about whether they should take up a joint effort of scanning customer drivers’ licenses to track problem customers.

Pittsburgh’s Action News 4 spoke with someone who heads security at one South Side bar that’s already using that technology.

“That one procedure helps out a lot,” said Eddie Carey, Cosmo On Carson’s VIP manager.

The procedure involves using an ID license scanner, in Cosmo On Carson’s case, from a company called Patronscan.

“It makes sure that people who have the habit of engaging in violent behavior are denied access to those bars and nightclubs with a reasonable expectation for the rest of the people that they can be safe,” Jason Swanson, of Patronscan, told Pittsburgh’s Action News 4 in an interview via Zoom.

Customers who’ve been scanned into the same system at another location and who caused a problem elsewhere are flagged immediately.

“I would like all the bars and all the clubs to do it, because we would know if they leave from one establishment on the South Side — if they just got kicked out, too intoxicated or whatever — note that and it would come to ours,” Carey said.

Swanson indicated the results can be immediate.

“Flagged in the system in real-time. So, from the time that an incident happened, they can be flagged and then it’s community-driven,” Swanson, said.

Another company offering bar ID scanners is IDScan.net

IDScan.net says its tool gives bars and nightclubs instant notification if a patron found on a banned list attempts to enter the premises.

For businesses, technology beats word of mouth.

“If something happened on South Side, I have relationships with different people that are at the clubs. People will text me, and then send me a picture. ‘We just let this person out of the club because of whatever the case. (That’s) not from the machine. But the machine does do that. And I think everybody should have that same machine and have that equipment. So it’s easy,” Carey said. “It means a lot. we’re not going to judge a person on something that happened a while ago, we don’t know. But it gives a red flag to keep a little extra eye on that person or just make sure everything runs smoothly.”

During a meeting with South Side bars and restaurants recently, Allegheny County District Attorney Stephen Zappala indicated that his office will work with them on purchasing the hardware if they choose to share information through such networked ID scanners.

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