Commercial Property Security Program – A Balanced Approach
Providing management services for commercial properties involves a laundry list of universal elements including landscaping, janitorial needs, mechanical system maintenance, snow removal, parking area maintenance, everyday minor repairs, vendor contract management and building security. Until recently, building security was viewed as a relatively insignificant line item on the annual budget projection. After all, events at commercial buildings, more often than not, involved ribbon cuttings which rarely made the front pages of the daily newspaper or local television station. However and sadly, the seemingly senseless acts of violence that routinely occur in public commercial buildings has forced responsible managers to rethink the value and duties of their security personnel/vendor.
Prudence suggests, given the increased threats we know exist, that commercial office properties need a very visible security presence to deter bad behaviors. But, at the same time, responsible property managers do not want their security personnel to be so visible (or armed) as to project a negative safety image to tenants, clients and visitors. Therein lies the paradox—we all know we can no longer relegate building security to the afterthought bin but, simultaneously, we don’t want to create a negative impression that is unwarranted and ultimately may harm the reputation and value of an asset. What to do?
THE CABOT GROUP suggests the answer is a balanced approach that incorporates a number of strategies including:
- Treating our security personnel as concierges. Rather than have our security people seated behind a desk in the lobby, we have them in easily identifiable professional attire standing in positions that allow them to monitor the entry points into the building. This allows our security team to personally greet every guest/client of our tenants, which effectively screens everyone entering the building
- Utilizing as much modern technology as possible. The use of well placed, visible electronic video systems is a cost effective deterrent to potential security issues
- Having a well designed emergency response/unusual event plan in place that is structured around industry best practices. It’s important that security staff and building management staff know the plan and are prepared to act without hesitation
- Real time reporting of emergencies and unusual events, in addition to day-to-day site condition reports
- Reducing security staff turnover. Security personnel who remain at a property for a length of time grow to know a building’s tenants and their respective staffs. This familiarity, often developed over several years, fosters an atmosphere of congeniality and trust between the tenants and security personnel. Subconsciously, our tenants become our eyes and ears with respect to identifying suspicious activity
- Security staff mobility. As part of an overall security program, security staff must tour the entire property at random times throughout the day. This element of the program increases security staff visibility and may uncover a potential security problem before it becomes a reportable event.
Building security programs are designed to protect a commercial property and its occupants from disruptive or unlawful actions by non-occupants. The challenge for property managers is to maximize the protective effects of the program without projecting a public image that building security is currently or has been an issue. THE CABOT GROUP, by virtue of its more than forty years of property management experience, has successfully constructed security programs for very high profile commercial buildings that achieve this delicate balance. Experience is said to be the best teacher and THE CABOT GROUP provides its clients with a wealth of experience.