Overall crime in the 30 largest cities of the U.S. was estimated to be down nearly 3 percent in 2017, according to a recent study by New York University School of Law’s Brennan Center for Justice. For New York in particular, the crime rate was expected to fall by approximately 5.2 percent in 2017 compared to the year before. This crime data comes directly from local police departments in those cities. While these figures are seen as a positive by law enforcement and security professionals, condos, co-ops, and HOAs must take a deeper dive into respective neighborhood crime statistics to fully understand the risks and vulnerabilities facing their particular communities.
The Lay of the Land
To get an accurate picture of the aforementioned risks and vulnerabilities, “property managers and building administrators begin by evaluating the criminal activity within their particular neighborhood and surrounding streets, and within their individual property boundaries,” says Tim O’Brien, CEO of Astoria, New York-based Criminal Intelligence Administration, a private security consulting firm. “Once the evaluation and analysis is complete, appropriate countermeasures, including personnel, systems, and procedures are designed and implemented.”
Determining what level of security is appropriate for a particular community is based in part on the level of risk community members are comfortable with, “seasoned by a realistic look” at the risk actually present in the community, explains Larry Amaker, founder and CEO of Amaker & Associates Investigations, LLC, a security consulting firm based in Hertford, North Carolina. “Absolute security is not achievable,” he says. “The idea is to secure the community to such a level that the inhabitants feel there is sufficient security to protect them, and the antagonist feels the community is too difficult to broach without a high risk of capture. No one wants to live in a prison – and it’s not necessary to in order to feel safe.”
Observations Are Key
In O’Brien’s view, observations from residents, board members, and management are the first step to ensuring security and safety. Information gained by the people who actually live in a community can then be shared with professionals as they assess the property and surrounding neighborhoods. The most important goal, however, is determining the wants and expectations of HOA residents.
“One of our clients distributed a survey in which residents were asked for their opinions on protection and what they expect management to do to further ensure their safety,” says O’Brien. “The results were analyzed, and a few recommendations were approved for inclusion in the planned security upgrades. Residents felt they were involved in the process, and the survey was well-received.”