Steps to Enhance Security in your Community Association

July 16, 2020

As Director of Consulting, Kevin Davis brings substantial crisis leadership experience and detailed knowledge to GardaWorld. He is a graduate of the FBI National Academy and FBI National Executive Institute. During his dedicated career in law enforcement, he led reform initiatives in use of force, training and technology that have received international attention and accolades. Kevin shares his Top 10 List of Security Issues that should be on your community association’s agenda.


As Baltimore’s 39th police commissioner, I served during one of the most tumultuous times in the city’s history after the in-custody death of Freddie Gray and the riots that followed. Yet, communities represented and unrepresented by associations still took their neighborhood’s safety temperature by looking out their window and walking around the block.

Pay attention to what people tell you matters most to them. My advice to newly promoted police commanders as they took on community meeting responsibilities in some of the toughest neighborhoods in America. 

In my experience, single-family homeowners and apartment renters took notice of quality of life indicators that influenced how they felt about their communities. Abandoned cars, graffiti, trash, and other overt signs of neglect dominated community conversations with police officials even though it is well-known local cops were not responsible for creating or necessarily fixing all those conditions.

Is your community association paying attention to the things that matter most to you?

Below is our Top 10 List of Security Issues that should be on your association’s agenda.

  1. Cameras: An IP-based security camera system is both a deterrent to criminals and a necessary evidence-based solution that helps police solve crimes. Cameras should capture vehicle and pedestrian ingress and egress areas, as well as common areas where residents gather. Some jurisdictions allow for the merger of privately-owned camera systems with city or state operated watch centers. This is something to take advantage of if available. Installing a license plate reader at all points of vehicular access also enhances safety. They capture and record the tags of all incoming and outgoing vehicles. 


security camera on building wall


  1. Security Presence: Whether it’s around the clock or limited to evening and weekend hours, some level of security guarding service should be implemented as a best practice. Security officers serve as eyes and ears for community associations. They can physically man entrance gates and/or conduct routine neighborhood patrols. It is invaluable safety visibility. 


  1. Ingress and Egress Beautification: It is true that you never get a second chance to make a first impression. That notion applies to prospective homebuyers, visitors, and criminals.  A pronounced and welcoming entrance says something important about your community. The design and messaging should be created as a collaborative effort with your association members to ensure the unique spirit and culture of your neighborhood are captured.


  1. Lighting:  Today’s energy-efficient and long-lasting LED lights make it nearly impossible to find an excuse not to prioritize their installation. Their brightness makes for an attractive optical addition that community association members will embrace as they venture out for evening strolls or just walk to their cars. Criminals will lose the anonymity typically afforded to them by darkness and take their nefarious intentions elsewhere.    


street lights at night


  1. Roadway Conditions: Well-paved roads with stripped reflective markings that are free of potholes send a safety message on their own. Stay in touch with your local elected officials and implement a roadway repair schedule for your community.


  1. Curb Appeal: Properly cared for homes and lawns invigorate neighborhoods with their vibrancy.  If your association has covenants that mandate upkeep, ensure your association’s attorney has a practical game plan to guarantee compliance.


  1. Graffiti: As soon as it goes up, it must come down. Develop a working relationship with your local police and public works officials, and create a plan to remove quickly.


washing graffiti off


  1. Abandoned Cars: State and local traffic laws prohibit the parking of abandoned vehicles on roadways, and community association covenants may preclude them from being parked on private property. The sooner these issues are addressed, the better. Uniformed and consistent enforcement should apply with no special treatment.


  1. Trash and Blight: Local police increasingly have environmental crime squads that team up with public works agencies to identify and prosecute illegal dumpers. Get to know these groups, invite them to association meetings, and build a working relationship. 


  1. Opening and Closing Times: Pay attention to the opening and closing times of local establishments that sell alcohol. Work with your local elected officials to ensure liquor licensing and zoning laws are obeyed. Lobby for changes to the laws if necessary.

Your community association can and should be one of power and influence. Continue to pay attention to what people are telling you matters most to them, and use my list to guide your association’s discussions.


Kevin Davis

Director, Consulting Services, GardaWorld


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