Social distancing, economic hardship and civil unrest create opportunities for crime. While 2020 marked a year of peril, it also forced apartment management companies to re-evaluate the future of their security service. Property managers now must consider how to address new apartment security threats, from apartment vacancies and property crime to the return of civil unrest.

The months ahead will prove challenging for property managers responsible for apartment security. As social distancing continues, reduced manpower creates many opportunities for criminals to strike. Meanwhile, mass protests could erupt again as the anniversary of George Floyd’s May 25, 2020 death approaches.

The statistics aren’t reassuring: Property victimizations annually affect more than 1 in 10 persons age 12 or older, while violent crimes in urban areas affected 1 in 50 people. Apartment leasing trends suggest tenants have become more concerned about crime, contributing to lower rents in both newer and older multifamily buildings.

Stay-at-home orders during the coronavirus crisis may have put more “eyes on the street,” but lockdowns had mixed results in tamping down crime. A study of Chicago crime during COVID found more burglaries than expected in the South Side’s Bronzeville and Hyde Park communities. As more residents venture outside, the threat of residential crime will rise.

Apartment Security Solutions: Integrating Technology, Training and Teaching

Clearly, it is time to rethink apartment security with an eye to combine physical security (armed security guards and unarmed security guards) with top-notch technology (thermal imaging, video surveillance, security drones and more). And despite the risks ahead, a multifaceted approach can address apartment security and crime deterrence on many levels. Here are proactive apartment security solutions that property management companies can implement now:

1. Update and integrate your apartment security systems

Too many property managers think a decades-old standard security camera system and legacy alarms can get the job done. The current range of high-tech options, especially when applied together as integrated solutions, create a more robust layer of protection to assist security guards in their work.

Integrated security services include motion sensors, smart security cameras that work with computers, thermal imaging and smarter video. Thermal imaging can detect vehicles or individuals in vulnerable areas and also act as a COVID-19 alert system as it scans entrants for elevated temperatures. Video analytics uses machine learning not only to spot objects in a field of vision but also count them for unusual activity spikes. It can also name the potential security violation, from loitering to illegal parking.

2. Redeploy your resources

Limited police availability remains an all-too-common scenario in 2021, especially in high-risk urban areas. While the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics expects police hiring to increase by about 5% through 2029, murders jumped by 35% in 51 cities between 2019 and 2020.

Armed guards and security patrols, available around the clock, are needed more than ever to fill an urgent void. First-in-class trained security guards will possess a number of skills that make them ideal complements to the police and community patrols. They can provide conflict de-escalation, offer a strong physical presence and maintain order in volatile situations. The best security guard companies provide cross-training to prepare them for any circumstance.

3. Provide on-premises safeguards

Whether it involves rent collection or teaching tenants how to protect themselves and their residences, an involved apartment security presence can make a difference, especially when security guards live in the neighborhoods they protect. No matter the situation, awareness matters. Guards trained to spot security threats can stop them before they cause harm.

A security guard service that emphasizes customer service can also contribute to tenants’ sense of safety. Security officers can pass on their knowledge and advice to the residents they protect. In encouraging and showing residents how to deter crime, they not only build trust at the apartment buildings they serve but also create a community-minded vigilance that takes integrated security to the next level.

When tenants take a more proactive role in their communities’ apartment security, officers prepare for multiple security threats and owners adopt integrated security solutions, property managers neighbors and security personnel win together.