Q: What are the pros and cons of armed guards in a gated homeowners association community. I am requesting your opinion with having armed guards patrolling a gated community.
We have two new directors (total of five) who feel the best way to ensure community safety would be to arm the guards.
The other three directors are with the declarant (the homebuilder), and they at this time are not saying anything, just listening, with no response.
For the past seven years, my family and I have been living in this growing community of 1,700 homes. It’s still under development with the anticipation of the declarant turning over the HOA to the homeowners in about two years.
There are no gangs, brothels, drug houses or public fistfights in our community. We do have a few domestic disputes. We also have some soft points of entry that are still in question, but other than that it’s a well-rounded family community.
I also will share that Henderson Police lieutenants and captains have told me and a few others that if they could blueprint this gated community for other areas of Henderson, they would do it; and whatever we are doing — continue to do so.
A: Over the many years of my managing community associations, it has been on rare occasions that the conditions within the communities warranted armed security guards. The decision to have armed security was based on the fact of continual shootings, gang-related incidents and attacks on the residents at these communities. These security officers and companies worked closely with management and with the Metropolitan Police Department in establishing specific protocols for monitoring the community, as well as enhancing security features, such as more effective lighting, redesigning pedestrian and vehicular gates, increasing the height of walls or installing the shepherd hooks on existing walls, etc. In some of these communities, we were able to establish viable Neighborhood Watch programs.
Specific information as to the numbers and types of police calls received for the association and for the specific neighborhood can be obtained from the police department. What empirical information does the association have as to the police activity within their community?
In your case, prior to the engaging in an armed security contract, the association should contact its insurance company to ascertain if any changes should be made with the association’s current policy as a result of having armed guards. In addition, the association’s legal counsel should review the proposed security contract, as well as the security company’s insurance policy. Your association does not want to create more liability by having armed security, especially if the contract states the association will hold harmless the security company.
In interviewing a security company that provides armed guards, the association should obtain definitive information as to the training of the guards — the number of hours, certifications and re-certifications required of the security company — and the specific hiring requirements of the guards. What kind of background checks does the security company have in its hiring program? Ask such questions and confirm if the security company has ever been sued for personal injury cases.
There is a significant cost difference in providing armed security, partially due to the cost of insurance. Does the association have the current funds to support armed security?
Granted, many of the above suggestions absolutely apply to any security company, but there is a major difference when an officer has a weapon.
As a general statement, armed security should be your last choice where the conditions of your community should absolutely warrant this service.
Barbara Holland is a certified property manager, broker and supervisory certified association manager. Questions may be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org.