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A case study in affordable security.

A Case Study in Affordable Security

Stroh River Place is a 31-acre, multiuse, planned community located within Rivertown, Detroit's new warehouse redevelopment project. The development is located on the Detroit River, less than one mile from the downtown business district and the Renaissance Center.

The late 19th and early 20th century industrial buildings are being renovated to house a variety of residential and commercial tenants. The Stroh's Brewery Company is the largest commercial tenant, with other space occupied by Michigan National Bank and Doctors Hospital. The complex includes office, retail, restaurants, residential, and a 1,250-space parking garage. Long-term plans include a hotel and a fine arts structure.

In planning the development, surveys found that security was one of the principal concerns of prospective tenants. At the same time, the property wanted to control security expenditures. The facility installed a sophisticated electronic security system, incorporating computerized, fiber optic fire and security monitoring, card access control, and closed-circuit television, as well as energy management and fire protection systems. In addition, the property hired its own force of 22 guards to monitor computerized systems and respond to alarms.

However, ownership felt that additional security was needed to make the urban environment attractive to tenants. To meet this need, they developed an innovative solution, a private, non-profit security firm to serve not only their property, but the community.

Rivertown Security Service was established in 1983 as an independent security patrol and crime prevention service that serves private homes, apartments, industry, and commercial business in the area. Officers for the service curtail crime in the area through vehicle and foot patrol and dissemination of loss-prevention information.

Rivertown Security Service was formed as members of the Rivertown Business Association realized that all their meetings were permeated with discussions about crime, the fear of crime, and what could be done to reduce crime. They knew the city's law enforcement budget and police force could not handle all the problems confronting them.

Working with the police force, the business association began to conduct security surveys and provide information to heighten awareness about security and crime prevention in Rivertown. Rivertown Security Service was the result.

Forming a nonprofit organization encouraged community support and achieved the goal of bringing the public and private sectors together to solve a problem. The security service is not viewed as just another business.

Rivertown Security Service has an executive committee, a board of directors, and an advisory board. The advisory board draws members from the business community in general, from the Rivertown Business Association, and from the police. Although the service operates in conjunction with the business association, it has its own bylaws, independent of the association.

The advisory board of Rivertown Security Service received help with the heavy financial burdens of hiring and insuring officers by contracting with a private security agency. This agency supplies a patrol vehicle and several uniformed officers, reserved exlusively for the Rivertown account. The advisory board screens the candidates and makes the hiring decisions. The service was operational within 90 days of the first conceptual meeting because the security agency helped "cut through the red tape."

All funding has come from private-sector contributions. There was no receipt of grant money to start the service nor is any anticipated in the future. The rate structure for subscribers is prorated according to number of employees. The Stroh Brewery is the largest subscriber. The service now serves 62 subscribers, who pay different monthly fees. Any money left over after expenses are paid is used for the purchase of equipment or is put aside toward the addition of more vehicles and officers.

Rivertown Security Service began operating on April 1, 1984. It started with two officers and was active 84 hours per week. It now employs 15 officers.

Originally, the hours of operation were scheduled to coincide with the times of crime occurrence, which the crime analysis unit of the police department helped to establish. For instance, several restaurants that subscribe to the service were accommodated by having officers on duty up until the late hour when they closed on weekends.

It is important to note that Rivertown Security Service is not just a mobile patrol. The security officers wear two hats, figuratively. One is "patrol"; the other is "visit." When on patrol, officers physically check buildings and doors and leave a notice at each location checked. Each officer must also make a contact with at least one subscriber each day, by visiting and putting on a crime prevention demonstration or seminar of some sort for the people at that location. This makes the service active as well as reactive.

Rivertown security officers are supervised by Stroh's manager of corporate security and his supervisors. The executive committee meets with all security service officers weekly for an update of what has happened and any followups that are required. For example, if an officer has uged a subscriber to change a lock, it is the officer's job to return to the subscriber and see that the lock has been changed.

Not all businesses in Rivertown subscribe to the service, but all benefit from it. When officers note something in a nonsubscriber building while checking those that subscribe, they call the police and contact the owner. This usually results in obtaining that owner as a new subscriber because the benefit has been dramtically demonstrated.

From its inception, Stroh has supported the Rivertown Security Service as one of its subscribers and has assisted the service whenever possible. The 11 original subscribers, which soon increased to 45, paid $100 per month for the service. That did not cover the expenses to move the security service concept from the drawing board to reality.

Stroh provided some of the necessities, such as two-way radios and training by Stroh security officers. In addition, the base for the Rivertown force is in the Stroh corporate security headquarters where the security control center dispatches and coordinates information between the Rivertown service officers and the police. Furthermore, the Stroh corporate security manager serves as a director of the non-profit corporation. Rivertown Security Service provides an additional ring of security supplementing in-house security for Stroh, just as it does for other subscribers.

The benefits of the Rivertown Security Service are clear. It helped to reduce crime in the Rivertown area by 50 percent in 1984, and Detroit police report a continued curtailment in area crime. The high visibility of the service is a deterrent, and area saloons and taverns that had been hot spots for crime have calmed down considerably. The mere presence of patrol cars in the area is sometimes enough to drive off criminals.

An example of the effectiveness of the service was the discovery by officers of people living in an abandoned building and using electrical appliances, even though the building had no utilities. An extension cord was found plugged into a nearby building. The officers also found attache cases, office equipment, clothing, and other items taken from surrounding buildings. The vagrants used these materials in a barter system to buy necessities.

The Rivertown force escorted the vagrants out and notified police, who contacted social services to get these street people into a shelter or some sort of program.

The Rivertown Secujrity Service also participates in the area crime prevention program that includes films and slide presentations to inform subscribers about auto and internal theft.

With the advent of the security service, the Detroit Police Department saw that the community was willing to go to great lengths to deter crime. They expanded their own patrols in the same area. In 1985, the east side mini-station base for the department was moved to River Place from an old, condemned building in an area nearby. The Stroh Brewery Company offered to rent space for the mini-station for $1 per year, utilities included.

The station now operates in the Stroh security control center building. Communications between the police, the Rivertown Security Service, and the Stroh security officers are enhanced by their proximity.

In summary, officers and security managers along with corporate management, employees, tenants, visitors, and the Rivertown community are benefitting from the team and systems approach to security management at Stroh River Place in Detroit.

Thomas F. Raymond is a manager of corporate security for the Stroh Brewery Company. In addition to his responsibilities at Stroh, he serves as director of the Rivertown Security Service. He is also a member of the American Society of Industrial Security.

PHOTO : Cooperative patrols by the Rivertown Security security system from Johnson Controls. Services and the Detroit Police Department are supported by a sophisticated electronic security system from Johnson Controls.
COPYRIGHT 1989 National Association of Realtors
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1989 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Title Annotation:property management
Author:Raymond, Thomas F.
Publication:Journal of Property Management
Date:May 1, 1989
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