A quandry that homeowner associations face is how implement security measures when a known violent resident exists. The board has a conundrum: Fail to inform residents about a violent resident who subsequently injures someone and the board is held responsible. Inform residents of a violent resident who subsequently files suit against the HOA for libel and the board is held responsible. But failing to act is not an option. Besides taking and responding to complaints in this regard seriously, one way to monitor resident activity is by security cameras. If the board is thinking about it, consider:
1. Who is going to service the cameras to make sure they are functioning properly?
2. Who is going to monitor the cameras and sound the alert if something improper is occurring?
3. How many cameras and where are they needed?
4. Do security cameras actually stop criminal activity?
5. Is the homeowner association responsible for law enforcement?
Installing video surveillance cameras is a very expensive and an uncertain method for controlling crime. Security is more perception than reality. Many of the surveillance cameras you see with the blinking red lights are just that… fake cameras with blinking red lights. Using the same theory, inexpensive printed signs that read “24 Hour Surveillance” can be just as effective as cameras assuming that the bad guys can read.
Paying the cost of cameras should be carefully considered. These measures are often a knee jerk reaction to a recent security incident. Once the hysteria passes, the homeowners’ desire to fund the ongoing costs is rarely there. Give the issue time to mellow.
Most security problems should be handled by local law enforcement. The HOA is not prepared to deal with real crime in an effective way. Defer to the pros. They are trained and paid to do the job.
The HOA can and should form a security committee and all residents should be given information about Neighborhood Watch and other self help security programs.
The board can also have local law enforcement attend a board meeting to discuss the issues and solutions. This is particularly important since it will be recorded in the minutes that law enforcement was formally put on notice of problems. Obviously, if law enforcement suggests corrective measures, the HOA should take specific action to increase security (like improved lighting, fencing, reduced landscape cover, etc.). the Board needs to act. But in the final analysis, leave playing cop to the cops.
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