Designing Security: How to Implement Residential Security Solutions Without Jeopardizing Property Look and Feel

By Mike Miller MS, CPP, General Manager, JC Protection LLC | July 21, 2023

There has been a steady increase in the use of private security services in recent years.

A concern that we hear from some Residential Property Managers often is that they don’t want their property to “look or feel like a prison.” Would you? Of course not. But at the same time, you don’t want random strangers to be able to trespass onto your property, right? There has to be a balance between security and convenience. This balance is achieved by building an environment that’s inherently physically secure, by designing the security protocols to be clear and complete, and finally, by adding qualified security guards to monitor the built environment and execute the security protocols.

One of the best examples of designing security into the built environment are concrete planters which are located around some high-rise buildings. These aren’t just there for aesthetic purposes – these large, heavy planters are there to act as bollards to prevent vehicles from crashing into buildings. Lighting is another important aspect in residential security. Are there dark, poorly lit areas where someone can trespass or commit a crime and go unseen? This is not just to prevent serious crimes; this is also to help encourage everyone in the community to follow the rules. Your neighbor is more likely to pick up after their dog if that area is well lit. Access points for pedestrians and/or vehicles should be designed to bottleneck and limit the amount people and vehicles entering/exiting simultaneously. This is achieved through the strategic positioning of stanchions, vehicle access arms/gates, and by generally limiting the number of points of access at a property.

The security standards of the community, as well as the security guards’ standard operating procedures (or, post orders) have to be clear and complete.

Who is allowed to enter and what time? Is photo ID required? Do all visitors have to be verified with the resident? What if the resident doesn’t answer, what should the guard do? What if it’s a food delivery, is then photo ID required? What if they’re escorted by a resident, is then photo ID required? What time should laundry rooms and compactor rooms be locked?  Rules and reminders of the rules should also be communicated ahead of time to everyone in the community.

Each of the scenarios should be thought out and solutions already in place for most scenarios. It is confusion about the process and uncertainty on how management wants certain situations handled that contributes to security being seen as imposing and prison-like. The process is acceptable by residents and visitors as long as it’s smooth and as effortless as possible. It starts feeling like a prison when people who belong in the property are denied access. This is often due incomplete/inefficient/ineffective protocols and not because the person is not authorized to enter. Most people want to comply with security rules- but you have to have the right environment in place to make it easy for them to comply.

Security personnel are a critical portion of a complete security program at a residential building or private/gated community.

Guards are tasked with maintaining the integrity of the physical environment by performing patrols of the property, being posted at an access point to control access, enforcing the security rules, and ultimately by communicating back to management any issues/concerns with the physical environment as well as any violators of the security rules. It’s necessary to have trained guards with customer service and communication skills in order for them to enforce said rules while not unnecessarily denying access to authorized visitors.

We can achieve a secure residential environment without it resembling a prison by designing or updating the space with security in mind, by designing the administration of the security program, and by having skilled security guards to monitor and patrol the property.

At JC Protection, LLC, we specialize in residential security services for apartment complexes, residential communities, HOAs, and more. Contact us today to learn more.