First bar in Tucson certified by AZ Safer Bars Alliance

Published: Aug. 5, 2017 at 1:28 AM MST|Updated: Aug. 5, 2017 at 1:39 AM MST
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TUCSON, AZ (Tucson News Now) - Hotel Congress is an iconic part of Tucson, and now as the hotel serves up drinks they will also be keeping an eye out for sexual violence.

"Any environment with a lot of people, with alcohol. Lowers inhibitions, a friendlier open environment," said Greg Fogie, Hotel Congress bar manager. "Just opens the availability for someone who might be of that mind."

They are the first bar in the city to be certified with the Arizona Safer Bars Alliance, a program found all around the state.

"It's just important for us to be aware of it because we want people to feel safe here. We want people to feel comfortable," said Fogie.

That awareness is a key part of the training, which happens at the bar in two sessions. Staff learns ways to spot sexual violence and how to intervene.

"We'll involve in ourselves in the conversation whether we'll use the busing scenario or not. Just kind of interacting and we're in their space. Sometimes we direct our attention towards the person we feel may be receiving the aggression and just touch base with them. See how they're doing," said Fogie.

The program is a collaboration between Arizona Department of Health Services, the U of A, and the Southern Arizona AIDS Foundation.

Hotel Congress was hand picked to serve as a model for other bars in the city.

"Hotel Congress is such a staple and a big part of the culture here. it's just really important for us to build this collaboration and partnership because together I do believe we can create safer communities," said Michael Webb, with the Southern Arizona AIDS Foundation.

So far its is the only bar in Tucson to have this certification and hopefully that will change soon.

Tucson News Now learned there are plans for more bars to be trained and certified, as for Hotel Congress its 45 staff members are now ready to spot sexual violence and keep their customers safe.

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