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When assessing your building's security, there's no better time than the present.

When a building manager comes to me and asks when is the best time to reassess their building's security, I tell them yesterday.

Of course, analyzing the security of a building is a comprehensive process - it takes more planning than a day's work. But it's important that security is approached as an overall concept. It's not enough to set up a few cameras and hope for the best. Because while the components of a security program - cameras, alarms, guards, CCTV and other basic crime deterrents - are universal, their implementation is not. No two buildings are alike and as such their security programs need to be customized accordingly.

A security program shouldn't just include the building itself - it should also take the outside environment into account. The best way to assess a building's security is from the outside in. The neighborhood around the building is the place to start. What are some of the security problems other buildings are having? What crimes are prevalent in the neighborhood? The answers to these questions will influence the security decisions made for the building. For instance, if car thefts are on the rise, then the building's parking garage may need to be monitored more closely. If burglary is on the rise, access to the building should be more tightly controlled.

Planning for the future can also be addressed this way. If a new multiplex is being built nearby, it's guaranteed that the number of people in the area will increase dramatically, especially at night. This is something that will need to be addressed.

The flow of pedestrian traffic in and out of the building is something that must be closely monitored in any case. Studying the traffic patterns outside the building - where do people come from and when are they coming - can help determine which areas need to be more closely monitored. Access should also be limited to as few doors as possible. And those doors need to be monitored as closely as possible.

As well, environmental factors such as subway stations should influence the security program. Buildings with entrances near a subway station often experience higher crime rates than others because the train provides an easy escape route. Closely monitoring access at the entrance near the station or eliminating it altogether can go a long way toward reducing crime for these properties. Buildings with large bushes, although they may be attractive, can provide an easy hiding place for would-be intruders. Trimming them back can help.

Lighting is another aspect of security that is commonly overlooked. All common areas should be well lit, including laundry rooms, basement storage areas and stairwells.

Also important and often neglected are the residents of the building. One of the most important things to remember is that any security program should interfere with their lives as little as possible. After all, it is their home. It's very important to know the residents of the building, and not just for reasons of courtesy. For instance, many buildings have a number of residents who go to Florida for the winter or the Hamptons for the summer. That means their apartments are unoccupied for long periods of time and should be checked regularly for signs of intrusion. And of course, it's a good idea to keep residents updated on any changes in the security plan. That way they understand why a change that may seem like an inconvenience is actually a benefit to them and their families. As well, because security can't be everywhere all the time, residents need to be educated on their role as the eyes and ears of the building, and the importance of their active participation in the security process.

Defender provides uniformed and plainclothes, armed and unarmed security officers for a variety of clients in the tri-state area, including corporations, real estate and special events. Defender's approach to guard recruitment, retention and supervision are unique in the industry. based in Rego Park, Queens, Defender is the creator of the Guards as Clients program, a unique program designed to strengthen the retention and morale of the company's guards. Defender is also the inventor of the Guard-Watch System, an innovative supervisory system that ensures clients receive the maximum supervision and security coverage possible.

Mitch Gitter, President, Defender Security Services, Inc.
COPYRIGHT 1998 Hagedorn Publication
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1998, Gale Group. All rights reserved. Gale Group is a Thomson Corporation Company.

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Author:Gitter, Mitch
Publication:Real Estate Weekly
Date:Aug 26, 1998
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