By Angela Timmons / Published Oct 2015
More and more communities are reporting security issues within their neighborhoods occurring at their various amenities. Vandalism is becoming more frequent and uninvited guests at community pools and clubhouses are commonplace. Surprisingly, these issues are occurring in communities that have security measures in place. Some have gated entrances, perimeter fencing, and functioning access control systems. Here are some issues reported to our team from prospective clients and the implemented solutions that are working for these neighborhoods in Central Florida.
Too often we hear from clients or prospective clients, “we have a gated entrance and there is a fence around the perimeter, so how is it possible that there are people in the pool at midnight and they are not residents or their guests?” Apparently people are jumping over the fence and gaining access to the pool, sometimes causing more damage than just noise. Vandalism of the deck furniture, broken glass in the pool, and general destruction can cost associations thousands of dollars in repairs and replacements. We have heard of an association having all their pool and patio furniture stolen in minutes, even with a county squad car parked nearby! Aside from the actual theft of community assets, all homeowners are totally inconvenienced during cleanup and restoration. Adding cameras or officer patrols can ease the occurrence of such nuisances, and if configured correctly, your property manager will have the proof necessary for insurance or the authorities.
One Central Florida HOA townhouse manager installed keyed access to the pool and hot tub area adjoining the clubhouse. Only owners and tenants were issued keys and guests were to be accompanied by a key holder at all times. Shortly after the pool season started, there were incidents of people being at the pool after the 10:00 p.m. closing time. The intruders were making noise and playing loud music, some had glass on the pool deck, and there were broken bottles found in the pool. The attached gym area was also vandalized and equipment damaged and destroyed. You can imagine the cost of draining the pool and the number of annoyed homeowners while repairs were made. Local police were called consistently and trespass warrants could only be issued to nonresidents\guests caught in the act. Residents were sent a letter outlining pool rules of the association. The manager had concerns not only for costs and repairs, but of homeownersafety and association liability. If someone is injured climbing over the association’s fence, the association’s liability is touched. The board of directors agreed with the manager to install cameras in the pool area; talking cameras! They look like regular cameras seen everywhere with the dome face and camera inside, however, when they see motion they loudly ask the intruder to leave at once, or law enforcement will be called. All motion is caught on footage and instantly sent and stored on the main unit located close by. The association’s representative, usually the association manager is able then to access the images, and has the proof ready for further investigation.
To date, this manager says. . .the cameras we chose are working for us, and we continue to change and update our association’s security equipment in an effort to deter use of the amenities after allotted operation hours and maintain the integrity of our common areas. She has a monitor in her office and access to the recorded images. If she has an incident, she pulls the footage close to that time, downloads it, reviews, condenses and sends it to law enforcement, or uses it to enforce the amenity policy with homeowner residents and tenants by noticing and billing back individual unit owners for damages. The proof is right there at her fingertips.
Some associations opt for a patrol unit to move throughout the association at variable times to provide a visible presence to all homeowners. A roving patrol officer can check on individual amenities, enforce parking, check identification for those using amenities, and call authorities to resolve a conflict if needed. This patrol allows your management team to have the reporting and proof they need when doing amenity rules enforcement. Security officers observe and report, handling minor issues, and notifying authorities for resolution per the board’s directive in the association’s security plan.
While a bit more expensive than cameras, a patrol detail usually pays off in a short time and instances of unwanted intruders and general mischief diminish. Your local law enforcement office usually has a service officer who can refer off duty police patrols in four hour blocks in their marked vehicle. While rates are much higher than typical security companies patrol rates—sometimes double, many associations add the off duty police patrol to their security plan. Opting for police presence at their highest incident times and regular security officer patrols at others works well for them. Fostering a good partnership between your security company and local law enforcement is easier on the budget and still allows the association coverage within their neighborhoods. Residents actually find comfort in knowing that the patrol is moving throughout the neighborhood for dollars a month included in their assessments. Community patrols provide an additional layer of security for each homeowner, aside from their individual security measures taken personally at their property.
Sometimes, the energy spent brainstorming and gathering data and available solutions are hindered by the budget and time constraints of the association. Nowadays, security and peace of mind is not free; we are all paying for services to protect our families and property. Trusting the professionals who deal with this every day can be a leap of faith,
so picking the right security company is important. The final results…decreases in unwanted guests and decreases in vandalism and damages, are worth laying the groundwork, doing the research, and initiating a security plan. Once in place, updates and changes are relatively easy to make to any plan. Building a relationship with a professional security team, working with your management teams and your governing body are all essential to the success of any security plan or individual piece of equipment.
All said, security issues and enforcement of amenities policies is tedious in the beginning, but working the angles and implementing policies and procedures allows the association to regain its control. Once a plan is nailed down and implemented, instances of security issues decrease, and, if they do happen, they can be investigated and resolved quickly, allowing the association to recoup for damages and notice appropriate offenders. Maintaining a successful, operating security plan really does allow your community to have fewer instances of security issues and adds to the value of your associations’ property and amenities.
Sales and Marketing
Angela Timmons represents Sales and Marketing for Ramco Protective in the Central Florida area. She is a CAM with years of experience in Association management services and functions as a liaison for select existing and prospective clients with security guard service, gates, and access control systems. For more information, contact Timmons at a.timmons@RamcoProtective.com, (407) 622-7609, or visit www.RamcoProtective.com.