1. Physical Presence
Signage and passive security measures only go so far when it comes to mitigating criminal activity on your property. Establishing a physical, boots-on-ground presence by enlisting a patrol service, sets the tone that there is actual intervention when a criminal element attempts to compromise the safety and security of your property. The example I've always used is the suburban neighborhood. It seems you can't enter any suburban neighborhood without seeing a "No Soliciting" sign. Our approach is that we don't want that message going in one ear and out the other. We want that rule or expectation enforced as a courtesy to residents, customers, tenants and employees as well as a crime prevention measure.
2. First Point of Contact Professionalism
In working with property managers, we've found that Security Officers are normally the first point of contact on your property. You would certainly not want that first point of contact to be someone loitering or harassing people. Over time that becomes the "face" of your property. Once a security guard or patrol service has established a physical presence on your property, that "face" will become one of professionalism, courtesy, and safety. With that being said, not all private security agencies have the same standards. When seeking out a security service, look for agencies that hire from military and law enforcement backgrounds. Also ask what additional certifications they require of their guards above and beyond the state licensing. First Aid Certifications seem like a no-brainer for someone charged with ensuring the safety and security of your property. However, some agencies continually higher lower quality officers so they can pay them less and maintain a higher margin. The bottom line is if you are considering enlisting the services of a Security Officer and Patrol agency, look for the ones that ensure those following levels of professionalism: Officer Quality, Elite Training and Customer Care.
3. Service Accountability
If you go ahead and make the decision that hiring a security guard or patrol service would greatly enhance the "face" of your apartment community, commercial center/plaza, or other property, then make sure the service provider is remaining accountable to you, the customer. Not all private security agencies ensure the same standards and accountability measures for their clients. If you put the word out to your residents, employees, tenants, or customers that we've taken on a patrol service, then you want to know that you are getting what you are paying for. Look for agencies that utilize security guard and patrol accountability systems. Some patrol services even offer reports that include a time, date and location stamp. This lets you know that whatever hours or patrol window you've agreed to is being upheld. Keep them accountable!
1. On Duty vs. Off Duty Mentality
Law enforcement officers serve our communities in ways that often go unseen. They are the lifeblood of what keeps our streets safe. However, just like anyone getting off a long day at work, their focus is on taking care of the homefront. Although they are still legally obligated to perform and execute their duties when called upon, their off duty time is meant to provide the relaxation and mental reset necessary to tackle the next shift. What many property managers have found is that private security agencies provide a level of service unmatched by a courtesy patrol. When the security vehicle or guard is monitoring the site, that is their primary objective. They aren't coming in the entrance and going straight to their unit, they are on-duty, patrolling the property and providing the presence necessary to deter crime, enforce community rules, and act as a community representative.
Most quality contracted security providers have some sort of accountability mechanism to track the location of their guards while on property. These systems provide an interface that is user friendly and advanced enough to report the exact track or route a guard took while patrolling your property. These mechanisms can prevent guards from kicking their feet up and staying in one spot all night. A quality security patrol covers the most amount of ground possible in order to provide a presence that deters criminal activity and sets the tone for your property! On the other hand, a courtesy patrol has zero accountability to management. Their movements are unable to be tracked by your property manager and you don't really know how in depth they are looking at the areas you have deemed to be of critical importance. The guard accountability systems mentioned above act as a forcing function for guards to check these areas each and every day. Plus, you don't have to take their word for it. These areas can be marked by a QR code that is scanned and reported to both the security agency management and the property manager.
The standard procedure for taking on a courtesy patrol officer is to offer an apartment at a discounted rate to a law enforcement officer. Not only are you outlaying funds, but you are losing a unit that could be rented at full-price. The beauty of a private security agency is that costs can be tailored to meet your budget and you still have the ability to rent that unit at the full price instead of taking money out of your budget to cover rent for a "patrol" that may or may not be happening.