Whether you live in a single-family home, an apartment building, or an HOA, home security is a major concern. Providing that security can range from installing a simple alarm system to equipping and training building staff members to use sophisticated access and surveillance technology, to a hybrid approach incorporating both tech and people. A given community’s approach largely depends on the type of property and its location. A sprawling townhouse community in the suburbs has different security needs than a high-rise multifamily property in an urban location. What they do have in common, however, is the need to properly train those charged with maintaining that security.
Personnel vs. Technology
“When considering security training,” says Alon Alexander, president of Kent Security, a national security consultant with offices in New York, Florida, suburban D.C., and along the West Coast, “every building has its own problems. A luxury building on Park Avenue is different from a garden apartment on Staten Island. So when we talk security, we consider both manpower and systems provided, and create specific systems and training on a building-by-building basis. We design and install cameras, access control, intercoms, alarms, etc.—but we consider both personnel and technology, because they have to work together. We want to train personnel to know how to use those systems, what to look for, how to respond to a video alarm, and so forth. Mostly we install analytics, and the security personnel are then responding to an alarm—not staring at a screen and waiting for something to happen.”
In determining the people-to-technology mix that’s right for any specific building, one has to consider what resources already exist, how they can be used, what can be added to expand or improve the system, and how security personnel can be trained to use those resources. “This has to be pre-considered,” says Richard Sjoberg, a private investigator and president of Richard A. Sjoberg & Associates, a Boston-based security firm. “Resources include what locks and other barriers there are along the perimeter of the property, and how they function to keep people out. Is there a glass door? Are there concentric rings of security; a fence to keep the unauthorized out? If intruders break through the fence, what is the next level of security; the existing doors, locks, etc.? If they get through the doors and into the lobby, what can the staff do to stop them? Once an intruder enters a lobby, the guard must have situational awareness about themselves. Have they developed a pre-plan for the situation? The most important consideration for them is likely saving a life and preventing harm to someone, anyone. Property is just property. As security professionals, we need to make sure no one gets injured, or worse.”
David Malefsky, senior vice president for Admiral Security Services, a California-based company with east coast offices located in North Arlington, New Jersey, stresses the people side of the equation. “Doormen and concierges must be familiar with the building’s residents, established procedures, and how the two factors interact,” he says. “Oftentimes, residents cause additional problems by not knowing—or not following—procedures. We use technology that allows the doormen, board members, and management to view security situations 24/7.”
Know Your Neighbors
For security concerns both large and small, a building staff’s familiarity with the residents who live there is critical, even in very large properties. This extends to everything from thieves and burglars potentially entering the property with false ID, to identifying Airbnb abuses. “Most luxury buildings don’t ask residents for ID when they enter the building,” says Alexander, “[but] in an office building, everyone must show ID.” He says this lapse in residential security is a problem. “What if the regular doorman is on vacation and the substitute doesn’t know the residents’ faces?”