While it is the community association manager’s job to maintain order and to enforce the rules of the community, many times residents mistake their managers for law enforcement. In the March/April edition of Community Manager, “Call 911 — Not Me!” is about taking your personal safety and the safety of your home into your own hands.
Disclosure packages often contain information about the board’s authority over community safety and it also should outline what their obligations are. This is also true for the role of managers with regard to the safety of the community.
Managers are encouraged to remind the residents of their communities that yes, the board and the managers do keep an eye on the community. However, they are not meant to be used as some kind of security task force. In fact, association staff members are discouraged from even using the word “security” as it could create a liability issue should something happen within the community. For example, if the community is gated and the gates are referred to as “security” gates, the manager and association are responsible for anything that may go wrong in the event of a malfunction.
Even if your community has a neighborhood watch, their jobs are simply to observe and report. They remain in their vehicles and call the police in the event of a threat to the community.
Asa Ashcraft, LSM, PCAM, and managing director at Spanish Trails Master Association says, “If you see smoke and flames, or electrical arcs, or somebody armed or who looks suspicious, call 911. Don’t call me.”
Of course, there are ways to open up a dialogue that will educate community memebers about the safety of their homes. Suggest the start of a committee that focuses on safety and how to improve security conditions in the community. Have that committee open up a dialogue with local law enforcement. Likewise, be sure to promote safety measures in newsletters and talk to your manager about practical solutions.
The important thing to remember, though, is if there’s an urgent situation or you feel as though your safety is compromised — call the police, not your managers.