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
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.”
Pat Hurley, Director of Business Development for Cambridge Security Services, which has locations in Newark, Fort Lauderdale, and Las Vegas, 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 they just want a warm friendly face to wave everybody in, and then [there are] others on the other end of the spectrum who want a very intense access control program. Our job is to try to match the flavor of each community with a great program that is highly effective and meets their expectations.”
Observations Are Key
According to Tim O’Brien, CEO of Astoria, New York-based Criminal Intelligence Administration, a private security consulting firm, 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.