The city of West Hollywood is now distributing drink-spiking test strips at local bars and restaurants in an effort to help people ensure their safety while they’re having a good time.
The strips, provided in a partnership with the Los Angeles LGBT Center, are designed to detect the presence of so-called “date rape” drugs.
Steven Barbosa of Stache West Hollywood said the move is about “adding that extra layer of comfort.”
“It’s going to draw more people in,” he added.
Barbosa is looking to spread the word among his customers, who can place a drop of their drink onto the strip and, if it turns dark blue, know that drugs are present.
“They are more than welcome to ask for it and we’ll be offering them, not only to our regulars, but we want our regulars to let others and their friends know that, if they come here, they will feel safe and comfortable,” he said.
Testing is an important tool for businesses and customers, according to West Hollywood Councilmember John Erickson.
“We’ve heard from the public and we’ve seen it at our public meetings that individuals have talked about potentially having their drinks spiked while they are out, and when cities hear that sort of thing, it’s up to us to act. It’s up to us to ensure that people are remaining safe,” he said.
In addition to the testing strips, the city is adding more safety personnel on the streets, including Block by Block ambassadors and Los Angeles County Sheriff’s deputies, and offering bystander intervention training to local businesses so they can help proactively prevent sexual assaults.
Many who frequent West Hollywood are happy to see action taken to keep people safe.
“Most people go to a bar and have a drink and then leave. So, can you imagine if you’re totally out of control and you don’t know what’s going on or who you’re with or what you’re doing? That’s terrible,” said Nick Welyhorskyj of West Hollywood.
West Hollywood resident Madison Greenlund said she plans to use the testing strips when she goes out.
“Yes, specifically at certain places where I personally have had an experience with being drugged in my drink,” she said.
Greenlund added that once the public is made aware of the strips, they could have an additional deterrent effect.
“I actually think that it would be a really great idea because those that might be threatening our environment in West Hollywood would be aware that this is going on … If there’s a way to get this heard throughout the community, I think it would be a great way to keep people from drugging people, if that’s their intention,” she said.