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  • Posted By Scott
  • |
  • Dec 20, 2016

The Hidden (High) Price of “Low-Cost” Security Decisions

If there is one Great Consistent in the Condominium industry, it is the fact that condominium board members and property managers are under intense, crushing pressure to keep costs down. This can cause conflict when there is a difference of opinion between board members when it comes to spending money. Occasionally, you will get a personality on the Board that is opposed to spending money on pure principle (regardless of the argument for, or against, the investment), and this can cause a divide in the vision and long term planning of the corporation.

Whereas board members have a fiduciary duty to ensure that the corporation’s money is spent appropriately, our experience is that deferred maintaince can also be a real source of angst among owners. The reserve fund is not meant to be a nest egg that is saved so that the owners can retire and live on the interest; it is an account that is meant to be used to update and preserve the owner’s investment – the common element of the condominium.

The bottom line is that the managers of the corporation (Directors and Property Managers) are charged with acting in good faith, and with ensuring that the money is spent on items required to preserve the owner’s investment.

The Security Audit/Assessment report is an excellent example of the above, as it illustrates the pitfalls of allowing the contractors to select the equipment. It also provides the framework to allow Board members to make educated decisions. However, that is not the focus of this article...

Our experience has been that during the condominium bidding process, three quotes are commissioned and as soon as they are presented, the lowest bidder is selected. The disconnect in this process is the expectation that the lowest bidder will provide the same product/service as the highest bidder - as long as someone is overseeing (re: micro-managing) the contractor. It is a simple fact that all the managerial oversight in the world will not make a sub-standard contractor into a good one. The old saying about getting what you pay for is very applicable in this situation.

Using Security Guard Services as an example (as many condominium corporations will use security guard services, either on an on-going basis, or just for special events), the process is usually the same as the above – call three security providers, get their hourly rates, award the contract to the lowest bidder. The fourth step that can arise from this: get frustrated when the service is not as expected.

The following points are important to consider if you are contracting security for an event, or for a long-term contract:

  • Security Providers are governed by the Private Security and Investigative Services Act, 2005. This act provides the requirements for both the agency (Security Company) and the employee (Security Guard).
    • - For example, a security guard MUST carry his/her security licence with them at all times when working (not in the car, not in the backpack, but on their person) and it must be surrendered anytime it is requested.
    • - Security Guards MUST have either a name tag or their security licence number displayed on clothing.
    • - The clothing worn by the security guard must adhere to the standards outlined in the act.

  • Not all Security Guards have the same training. The minimum requirement is to take a 40-hour course, pass a written exam, and take a first aid/CPR course. With that licence, an individual may be employed as a security guard – but there is other training that is available. One of the prime examples is the Use of Force Certification. Guards that successfully undertake this course are usually permitted by their company’s insurance providers to wear a vest (body armour) and to carry a baton & handcuffs. Whereas this equipment is very rarely utilized, it does serve as visual deterrent to would-be intruders. When preparing the scope of work for security providers to bid on, there should be clarity on the purpose of the guard and what level of guard service you wish to have deployed to the condominium.

  • Before a guard is deployed to the property, an orientation should be conducted with either the Security Supervisor or the guard that will be assigned to the property. Once this is complete, either the security provider or the property manager should prepare the written Post Orders. These are instructions for securing the property with all emergency contact information.

  • The Scope of Work should include the fact that the Security Report (the log that the security guard fills out all throughout his/her shift) is sent to management daily. This is a record of what was done and/or observed during the shift, and could be a crucial piece of evidence should some incident arise. The security report should be in chronological order, with each entry identified with the exact time of the occurrence. Every patrol of the property and observation should be listed in the report. Additionally, the security guard should sign the report at the end of the shift and include his/her security licence number.

  • Any keys or fobs that are provided to the guard during the shift are both signed in and signed out. Keys/fobs should be returned at the end of the shift even if the same guard is returning the next day.

The above are just a few examples to consider when contracting security services. As with any industry, there are both good and sub-standard security providers in the city. At 3D security, we have had the opportunity to work with the majority of providers and understand both the challenges and the pitfalls of the industry. The focus on the above article was mostly the Security Guard on site – stay tuned for a future blog on Security Companies, how they operate to provide Security Services, and different packages that a facility may consider.

As always, if you have any questions about this article or any other, please send us an e-mail at [email protected] or call us at 613-462-4086.