JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. (WJHL) — The Johnson City/ Washington County Family Justice Center now has a coordinator trained to teach free classes to bars and restaurants on how to prevent sexual assault and harassment.
It’s called the SafeBar initiative and the Family Justice Center hopes to get more area businesses on board and educated.
“We are hoping to make the community a safe place and we want to provide the community with the tools and resources to do so,” said Coordinated Community Response Specialist Melanie Jaynes.
Two years ago, The Branch House in Blountville offered similar free training through a different program.
Jaynes said she went to Nashville to receive her certification from the Sexual Assault Center to offer SafeBar classes.
YeeHaw Brewing Company in Johnson City has already received their SafeBar training over Zoom in early July. YeeHaw General Manager Tony Kraft said he learned about the training after their new location in Knoxville opened.
“So, it was something [that] once hearing about it, I knew was important for us to have,” said Kraft. “It’s easy to feel like you’re just a bystander in other people’s interactions, but there’s a lot of importance to observe what’s going on in your bar to make sure any potential dangers can be averted.”
Kraft said many people don’t take action for fear of being retaliated against, but the class teaches you how to deal with this by offering ideas on how to buy more time to get the person to safety.
The class also provides drink coasters that help to detect if the drink has been drugged with ketamine or GHB, which are common date rape drugs. The coaster turns blue if an abnormal substance is detected.
Kraft said they also have a poster showing patrons that they can ask a bartender for an “angel shot”. This lets the bartender know that the customer feels unsafe and needs help.
Jaynes said she is hosting her first class on Wednesday at the Tipton Street Pub. Interested bars and restaurants can contact Jaynes for a free class by calling (423) 722-3720 at ext. 117 or by emailing her at firstname.lastname@example.org.