If you suspected a sexual crime had taken place at your business,
would you know what to do? Having a response pattern in place to
safely manage the threat is something every aquatics facility
needs, says Richard Dangel, Ph.D., president/CEO of Praesidium Inc.
His Arlington, Texas-based firm specializes in helping
recreational facilities minimize the risks associated with sexual
offenses. Below is a six-step system developed by Dangel, which
aquatics managers can use to train their employees:
1. Let the suspect know you’ve got your eye on
them. If you believe a guest may be acting
inappropriately, go up and introduce yourself to the person as a
staff member. Ask the guest if you can be of assistance or answer
any questions about the facility and its amenities.
This will spotlight the situation and alert the suspicious
patron that he or she is being watched. After removing their
anonymity, the suspect will be inclined to leave or at least cease
whatever behavior is making other guests uncomfortable, Dangel
2. Identify what is of concern to the suspect.
If the suspicious behavior continues, Dangel suggests letting
suspects know specifically what you observed them doing that was
considered inappropriate. For example, maybe you noticed them using
a camera phone near a wading pool or bumping into children in the
wave pool. Exposing the behavior helps eliminate the risk that it
will continue in the future.
3. Explain why the conduct was inappropriate.
Clearly inform suspects why their behavior is considered
unsuitable. Tell them that their conduct is against the
facility’s policy, or that they are loitering in an area
reserved only for parents with children.
4. Give the suspicious guest specific
instructions. Spell out for them how you expect to them
conduct themselves and what the parameters of appropriate behavior
are. Make sure they understand that if the misconduct continues,
they’ll be asked to leave the swimming pool or waterpark.
5. Notify facility management immediately about the
incident. By alerting a supervisor about the episode,
management will be able to notify the rest of the staff about what
to look for and record the incident. They can also decide if law
enforcement or other authorities need to be contacted to handle the
6. Get law enforcement assistance before trying to
detain someone. For your own safety and the safety of
others, do not try to apprehend or detain a suspected offender
yourself. Get law enforcement or waterpark security involved if the
threat is serious. Sex offenders are just as capable of violent
behavior as any other criminal.