Harrisburg bar implements new policies and tools to prevent sexual assaults

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HARRISBURG, Pa. - The popular Harrisburg bar, HMAC, is taking extra steps to keep people safe from sexual assaults. The decision came after a woman claims her drink was spiked at the bar earlier this month. Even though police have cleared HMAC of any wrong doing, the owner has implemented new policies.

One of the new tools they're using is a lab strip that can test drinks for drugs right on the spot.  If a person feels like their drink may have been spiked, all they have to do is go up to the bar and ask the bartender if it can be tested, that way they can get to the bottom of any issues in real time.

HMAC owner, John Traynor, calls it another "tool" in the toolbox.

''I think this is a really, really great first step forward," Traynor said. "I think combining it with, training, signage, public awareness, I think it could be a game changer for the city."

The owner of HMAC is taking preventative steps following recent rumors and accusations that bar patrons are being roofied at his business.

''When this came to light a week or so ago. I sort of thought to myself, 'what could we do to improve safety for our patrons and make HMAC the safest place it can be'," Traynor said.

Even though he says none of the accusations toward HMAC are true, he created a new policy that a bartender must immediately bus any unattended drinks, in addition to the new lab strips that can test drinks for drugs.

''It just adds another layer of security and safety," Traynor said.

He said it's part of the venue's responsibility to keep its patrons safe. But the responsibility isn't just the bar's to uphold.

''We all have a role to play, so certainly bars want to do everything they can to ensure that their patrons are safe, but also it relies on all of us," Karen Galbraith, Training Projects Coordinator at PCAR, Pennsylvania Coalition Against Rape, said. "So if you are in a bar as a patron and you see something happening that isn't sitting right or is making you uncomfortable, or where you feel worried for someone's safety, perhaps you step up."

'We have thousands of people coming through here every month," Traynor said. "When you have larger events, obviously your bartenders can't watch every drink, and our security can't watch every drink."

Members of PCAR said it starts with prevention. Know your surroundings, have a back up plan, and listen to yourself.

"I think the biggest thing, honestly, is just trusting your gut, trusting that instinct, and recognizing though that sexual violence is most often committed by people that we know and trust," Galbraith said.

Traynor no sexual assault charges have ever been made involving HMAC, but unfortunately his business has taken a hit from the recent rumors and allegations.

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