Does your association have an electronic gate, a manned guard gate, roving patrols or strategically located video cameras in your community? Just how much security does your association need to provide?
This answer depends on the type of community you have, the requirements in your governing documents and any history of crime you may have experienced in your association. Some governing documents do require the board to provide specific security measures such as roving patrols. Others are silent on the issue but the board’s duty to protect the health and safety of the community residents is implicit.
Of course no matter what level of security your documents require or you have traditionally provided, any type of criminal incident in your community necessitates an examination of current security and a discussion on what else needs to be done to prevent another incident from occurring. A violent crime against a person in the association parking lot might require upgrades in lighting the premises, trimming or removing shrubbery where people can hide and the institution of roving patrols during certain hours. An incident of vandalism might require strategically placed video cameras to capture any future incidents on film. Having a visitor’s log at a front gate so every vehicle is identified and that list can later be given to the police has also proved useful for many communities.
Not examining security measures after a criminal incident and upgrading as needed could certainly result in the association being held liable for negligence in the event a future crime occurs on common areas.
I am always concerned that a manned guard gate might give a false sense of security to residents living in those gated communities. In my own community, for example, our security guards are really controlling ingress and egress and not much else. We have a wall but certainly anyone with nothing more than a step stool anyone could hop over it. Communities are well advised to encourage residents to take their own steps (in addition to measures provided by the association) to protect themselves and their property. These measures should include locking their vehicles and homes each night, trimming shrubbery in front of their homes and units, alarming their property and generally being aware of their surroundings.
Staying safe should be a partnership between the board and the owners with security being examined at least once a year if no incidents have occurred to see what new technology and measures should be considered