According to most experts, current overall crime rates in America’s 30 largest cities are at historic lows. This crime data comes directly from local police departments in those cities – and 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 in the context of a homeowners’ association or condominium, “You’re talking about community living,” says Pat Hurley, Director of Business Development for Cambridge Security Services in Fort Lauderdale. “In HOAs and condos, people choose these places to reside because there are lots of amenities. There is a sense of community, and also there are rules and regulations that provide for harmony. So the duty and job of security professionals is to come in and try to match a security program with what the lifestyles and expectations of what that community is in relation to their rules and regulations.”
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, CEO of Amaker & Associates Investigations, LLC, a security consulting firm based in Hertford, North Carolina.
“Absolute security is not achievable,” says Amaker. “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.”
Hurley agrees. “Every community is different in the level of access control and the security they desire. I encounter communities at both ends of the spectrum, and a lot in the middle. Some say we just want a warm friendly face that waves everybody in, and then [there are] others on the other end of the spectrum who want a very intense access control program. But most communities reside somewhere in the broad middle where they want reasonable access control duties. Our job is to try to match the flavor of each community with a great program that is highly effective and meets their expectations.”