Education, awareness, and cooperation between management, boards, and residents can make a huge difference in deterring crime in and around a building. Some basic behavioral adjustments – such as making sure nobody follows you into the building without a key, or not buzzing in any unknown or unexpected visitor – seem like common sense. But a community that educates itself on the how and why of certain safety measures has a better chance of enforcing them once they know the reason behind them. Taking mutual interest and joint responsibility in keeping a building safe will go a long way in maintaining the kind of culture that discourages intruders and perpetrators without making residents feel like they’re living in Fort Knox.
Roles to Play, Measures to Take
When it comes down to it, building safety is a shared responsibility even in terms of legal obligations. Dr. Mark Lerner, President of Manhattan-based Epic Security Corp., says that outside of basic mandates for an intercom and front door locking system, buildings are not responsible for fulfilling any specific security requirements. However, “In terms of liability, if something occurs and it is found that the board or residents were aware of avoidable high-risk factors—if there’s a history of stuff happening, then a building could face civil action.”
The board, management, and residents have a mutual stake in making sure a building is doing everything it can to deter crime, and that means not only paying attention to unique opportunities that might present potential vulnerabilities, but also day-to-day vigilance. According to Alon Alexander, President of security firm Kent Services, which has an office in New York City, “The board should be aware of security issues within the building, as well as the surrounding areas. They should take precautions when certain types of events are occurring in the area, such as a Fourth of July fireworks display or a block party. They should arrange for extra staff or security as needed. All building residents should part take in basic security as well, locking their door and making sure ‘tailgaters’ don’t gain entry. If they see someone or something suspicious, they should bring it up to management.”
Basics Within Any Budget
When contemplating security for a large multifamily building or sprawling association, it can seem like any initiative or program is likely to be expensive and laden with hassles – but that’s simply not the case. Some of the most rudimentary and affordable adjustments can be made almost immediately, and fortified by the people who have the most intimate knowledge of the community and its particular features: the residents themselves.
“Boards can create security committees and have ongoing discussion regards to security,” says Alexander. “They can alert residents of any known crime in the area or the building itself. At Kent, we take part in monthly meetings and update board members of recent crime in the area.”