For most people, nothing is more important than knowing that they and their families are safe and secure in the place they call home. Boards, management and security firms all must work together seamlessly and cohesively to create that safe environment without making a building or community feel like a citadel. It can be a delicate balancing act, but with the right approach, it can be done.
Beginning the Process
In most cases, the board and managers will shoulder the burden of finding the right security firm with which to work. “Each building or community is different and has its own priorities, but oftentimes it’s the management company hired to manage the property that makes security decisions,” says Mark Lerner, Ph.D, a criminologist and president of EPIC Security Corp., in Manhattan. “Sometimes a developer will make a bid or they’ll group together to form an association for common services that will include security services.”
“It all depends on who has the power at the building,” adds Wilfredo Ortiz, president of Advance Security & Intercoms in Yonkers. “Sometimes the managing agent makes security decisions and all they would need is board approval. If the board is involved in these types of decisions then most likely the managing agent will find a company and recommend the company. Then we’ll sit down with the board and figure out what it is exactly they are looking for and work within their budget.”
Finding the right security partner can take time but it starts with research and talking with other board members, managers and staff. “If you have a high-rise development with four or five high-rise buildings and a parking lot, then look for a company that does that,” says Lerner. “And if you live in a gated community look for a company that does that. Or you can contact that association or condo and ask them how long have you used that company and what their experience has been. You should see what the guards look like, what their vehicles look like and how responsive their management is.
“You call the office at 12 noon, you’ll get a salesman and they sound very nice, but call the company you are thinking about hiring in the middle of the night or on a holiday and see how fast they answer the phone. You don’t want to get an answering machine in India. That’s how you should test out your security company before hiring them.”