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HOA Security – Police Relationships


2) Complain wisely. “Community members have to be careful what they complain about,” says Tod Burke, a criminal justice professor at Radford University in Radford, Va., and a former Maryland police officer. “Let’s say speeding is an issue. You talk to any police officers, and they’ll tell you this story. The community association has had enough of those darn kids speeding and asks the police to do something about it. The police set up radar, and who do they catch? The homeowners. Homeowners have to abide by the same standards that they’re complaining about.”

3) Be reasonable. Remember that the police are the experts, and it’s never a good idea to assume you know more than the experts. “You shouldn’t insist that the police do a particular thing without listening to their solution,” says Anderson. “They may not be able to implement your solution. Instead, use a partnership approach by asking for help in a more open-ended way. You could say, ‘We’re concerned because traffic is going 20 mph over the speed limit. What do you suggest?'”

4) Don’t waste officers’ time. Make sure your residents minimize their nuisance calls to the police department. “Often the police department is very familiar with a community or building if, for example, you have residents who have alarm systems and frequent false alarms,” says Eric J. Gould, an attorney at Couzens, Lansky, Fealk, Ellis, Roeder & Lazar P.C. in Farmington Hills, Mich., who represents homeowners associations and lives in one. “If you have a lot of alarm systems in the community, it’s important to ask neighbors to have them checked so they don’t go off unnecessarily. Remind everyone that things like that affect the community.”

5) Adopt a cop. “You don’t have to issue a formal invitation,” says Burke, “but you should invite the police into your home just to chat, or if an officer is in your development, stop and say hello. In our area, we also have what’s called adopt-a-cop. Community members invite officers over for dinner or to community gatherings so residents can see the officer as a person, not just as a police officer.”

6) Keep residents informed. “It’s a good idea for a homeowners association to have a section in its newsletter with crime prevention tips and reports of problems,” says Anderson. “For example, if there have been break-ins, keep residents informed about what’s going on and how the police are responding. That makes people feel better about what the police are doing to address problems.”

7) Support police events. “If your police or fire department is sponsoring an event, your the association can score big points by lending a hand,” says Gould. “You could staff a booth, provide some type of sponsorship, or make sure some of your residents are there. The police or fire department could probably use the help, and you’ll be establishing goodwill. Police officers tend to know who appreciates their services and will reciprocate in kind.”