Vive La Securite Keeping your building safe and sound

In the wake of the World Trade Center attack, many boards are re-assessing their building’s security needs and taking steps to insure that their residents and residents’ property are well looked-after. Clearly, a building’s most valuable contents are not its Italian marble foyer, its antique gilded moldings, or its turn-of-the-century solid brass fixtures. No, the most important, most precious commodity in any given building is its residents. But making the decision to increase security is only the first step. Deciding what type of protection is most appropriate and which company to go with can be extremely daunting, particularly when considering the repercussions a poorly advised choice might have.

The Basic Questions

Once your board has decided that the time has come to invest in some real building security–before posting a battalion of armed sentries at every point of entrance to your home–it’s important to determine the actual needs of the building. Is it located in a high-crime neighborhood, or is the neighborhood more stable? Are you looking for a security presence that will intimidate and act as a deterrent, or are you looking for one that simply will be there in the event of an emergency? What kind of budget is available? Could you conceivably train existing building staff–doormen, porters, and the like–to act as security guards as well?

"Who wouldn’t want to have a security guard?" says Dr. Mark Lerner, criminologist and president of Manhattan’s Epic Security Corp., one of New York City’s largest security firms. "But [ultimately] it’s mostly a budget decision." A board has to start the process by looking at both its budget and its crime problem. "No building is exactly the same. Some buildings can afford 24-hour a day security. Some can only do it for a certain number of hours per day," Lerner says.

Companies like Epic and Astoria’s Criminal Intelligence Administration can help boards make these basic assessments and determine just what sort of security force is needed. Since 1987, Criminal Intelligence Administration has advised people on everything from security management to counter terrorism tactics. "We’ll do a security survey for a property," says Tim O’Brien, the company’s president. "We’ll look over established plans and procedures and put out a procurement order to find the proper service. If a security force already exists in the building, we’ll do an audit." Criminal Intelligence Administration will also look at contingency plans and procedures, assist in resident training, even help engineer the installation of closed circuit televisions. "We do everything except actually provide security officers," O’Brien says.

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