Magazine article Journal of Property Management

Teaching Residents the Safer Path

Magazine article Journal of Property Management

Teaching Residents the Safer Path

Article excerpt

No self-defense training, no high-tech lock, no actions on the part of management can ensure that residents are safe. But by helping residents improve their safety skills, you can put the odds in their favor.

Living within an apartment community requires a constant interaction with strangers. They are there when a resident picks up the mail, enters an apartment, or exits an automobile. In apartment communities, where residents come and go, a stranger can easily be taken for granted as a new resident or a visitor. Apartment residents, as well as managers, must make a conscious effort if they are to maintain "safe" space between potentially threatening strangers and themselves.

Giving Residents the Tools

Most property management companies are aware of the security precautions which they should take. Every apartment association convention seems to include one or more seminars designed to educate those in the multifamily industry on security issues. Unfortunately, educated management is only half of the solution. The balance of the security equation rests on the security precautions taken by residents. Yet, before residents can implement the appropriate security measures, they have to know what those measures should be.

What should owners and property managers look for in a resident education program? The first thing that should be considered is the diversity of your resident population. The medium one chooses should communicate effectively to as broad a range of the population as possible, irrespective of age or education. Also consider providing training in a second language if the community's resident profile justifies it.

When you consider the diversity of resident population, you should also consider their motivation to learn. If you offer information on the latest release from Microsoft to a person whose living or hobby revolved around personal computers, chances are there would be a high motivation to learn. Offer this same individual tips on fly fishing, and it may fall on deaf ears.

All of us are motivated to one degree or another by a desire to keep ourselves and our loved ones safe. This degree of motivation fluctuates. People typically reach their highest level of motivation after they have become a victim of crime. (This same phenomenon has parallels in the business world.) Fortunately for the general population, there are ways in which they can vicariously experience crime through television, newspapers, magazines, or friends and family so that they need not actually become a victim of crime in order to experience an increased motivation to enhance their personal security. Do not wait until a crime occurs at the property.

In implementing a security training program, managers should be certain that all residents, current and new, receive the selected training. Records should also be kept to show when and how residents have been trained. Both of these policies will be useful if liability questions arise.

Evaluating Training Programs

The goal of any resident training program is to change your residents' behavior. In order to accomplish, this, you must first make them more aware of the potential risks they face. This process creates the need for change.

The second step is to introduce residents to ways in which they can reduce their risk of becoming victims. A good program should include information on:

* Correct use of security devices provided by the landlord

* Use and installation of non-permanent auxiliary security devices, such as window locks and automatic timers

* Safety precautions to be followed in common areas

* How to secure and insure valuables

* Parking lot and automobile security

* A personal emergency plan for criminal activity, fire, or natural disaster

It would be impossible to cover every scenario that an apartment resident could encounter, so it is also important to provide the audience with information designed to help them develop their own personal security plan. …

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