What is a “Citizen-run Neighborhood Watch Security Program”?
By standard definition, a citizen neighborhood watch security program consists of an organized group of civilians that collectively agree to devote their time, energy, abilities, and resources to protecting their local community against crime, such as vandalism, theft, burglary, trespassing, assault, and other offences.
In Canada, there are a few organizations that are set up to promote a responsible, safe approach to neighborhood watch activities and guidelines. Unfortunately, over the years, many of these programs have seen a significant drop in participation, such as the “Block Parent” program which is specifically designed to assist children in aid. The mandatory police checks and effort required on the part of volunteers, combined with busy lifestyle factors, has contributed to the decline in membership.
What are the disadvantages of relying on a citizen-run neighborhood watch?
Ultimately, all neighborhood watch programs operate on the VOLUNTARY premise of NEIGHBORS LOOKING OUT FOR NEIGHBORS. There is no formal contract, no work agreement, no paid nightshifts, and no mandatory requirement for your neighbors to even call 911 if they see a burglar in your backyard. They do not need to get involved if they don’t want to.
The “This Community Protected – Neighborhood Watch” signs that you may see as you walk through various neighborhoods in Toronto are provided by your local police service upon attaining a formal consensus from 50-80% of residents in your community. If you cannot get a minimum of 50% of your neighbors to agree, then you can try organizing an informal community watch, but in this case there are not enough members for their local police to recognize them. There is a chance the watch may grow, but it will need active involvement from volunteers.
A number of events in the United States of America have painted an ugly picture of citizen-run community watch programs, the negative impact even spilling over to Canada. In February 2012, teenager Treyvon Martin was shot and killed by an associate of a local neighborhood watch program, George Zimmerman, who was tried – and later acquited – for second-degree murder and manslaughter.
A Better Option – Security Company Neighborhood Watch Mobile Patrol Services
If you have reason to be concerned for your personal safety, the safety of your family, or if your neighborhood is at risk of serious crime, you might consider hiring a private security company to provide a dedicated neighborhood watch security program.
A professional security company will hire, train, support, and manage a team of mobile patrol security guards that will protect your property. You will not need to expend your efforts attempting to convince your neighbors to form a community watch. You will have the peace of mind knowing that a team of professionals, highly trained in crime deterrence, residential home security, surveillance techniques, and incident response are patrolling your property. You can rest assured that those professionals are backed by the right technology solutions and supported 24/7 by a team of managers.
Instead of relying on untrained and unregulated volunteers, you can rely on accountable and regulated security professionals.
Neighborhood Home Patrols by Marked Security Vehicles
Highly visible marked security vehicles increase your neighborhood security presence. Criminals that observe marked security vehicles patrolling a neighborhood on a regular basis will soon get the point that it’s better to target a different neighborhood. This is known as deterrence, or proactively preventing crime by causing a potential to feel fear of getting caught, and doubt of successfully achieving their aim and escaping.
Regular scheduled visits augmented by randomized visits will leave potential criminals guessing as to when and where a mobile patrol professional might suddenly arrive. Many criminals “stake out” a community for weeks, even months, determining the weakpoints and valuable assets of the homes in a community. Most break-ins occur during the night, due to the low visibility and loss of “natural surveillance” that comes when neighbors are awake and walking through the neighborhood. Having marked security vehicle patrols at night time, and adding highly visible foot patrols with strong flashlights, adds a significant layer of community security.
Neighborhood Watch Security Guard Patrols
Patrols can be on foot, or within a marked security vehicle, or both.
Mobile Patrol Guards can patrol your property in the unique manner it needs.
Mobile Patrol Team will collect information about neighborhood in case of any problems, and use it to improve surveillance and threat recognition
Communications with local police will be expedient, detailed, accurate, and objective oriented, getting the right response to the situation
Various technology is used to augment the skills and abilities of each team member, improving efficiency and effectiveness
Standard home checks include:
lighting functionality both sensor and continuous
access control – ensuring all exterior doors, gates, and windows are secured
signs of forced entry
vandalism and graffiti
alarm system responsiveness and functionality
highly overt patrol tactics to increase deterrence and security presence
A Condominium Concierge is a relatively new job, growing in both popularity and opportunity.
The condominium market has experienced continually upward trending growth. There is an ever-increasing volume of new condominium developments in Toronto, Mississauga, Markham, Richmond Hill, Vaughan, and other cities in the Greater Toronto Area. An explosion in Condominium Concierge job opportunities has resulted.
A Condominium Concierge is a position highly focused on customer service. It blends elements of Security Guard work with administrative duties and with hotel-style front desk service.
Concierge service adds a “5 Star” flair to a condominium community. Most new condominiums in the GTA are designed with a Concierge Desk front and centre in the main lobby. Concierge are the first people residents, guests, and prospective investors see when entering the building. Concierge are often referred to as the “face of the building,” and even impact condominium community reputation & status.
What does a Condominium Concierge do?
Meet, Greet, and Confirm
In most modern condominiums, all non-resident guests entering the building are required to interact with the Concierge first, who will then verify that each guest entering is authorized to do so. Courtesy calls are placed to the residents the guests claim they’re visiting, and the Concierge politely confirms that each guest is expected. As a service, residents feel pleased to have their guests greeted and announced, and as a security measure, this helps to keep the building safe.
Effective Incident Response
On occasion, condominiums experience incidents such as floods, power outages, fire alarms, and other situations that may pose a risk to resident safety and building security. Concierge personnel are trained to respond in accordance with standardized procedures. They keep the residents, their guests, and their properties safe, and they help to protect condominium corporations against liability.
Bookings and Administration
When residents want to use one of the building’s amenity rooms, the Concierge is there to assist. Condominiums residents have the ability to use common areas such as a “Party Room” to host a wedding reception, or a “Billiards Room” to have some fun with friends from out of town, or a “Theater Room” to watch a favorite movie with close friends and family. The Concierge has the authority and training to facilitate this, and handles bookings of amenity rooms, moves and deliveries requiring the service elevator, and keeps track of transactions such as parcels and packages, and keys.
What are the requirements for an entry level Concierge position in Ontario?
Most Concierge personnel in the province of Ontario are required to hold a valid Ontario Security Guard License. If you want to be a Condominium Concierge, you should probably start with completing the mandatory 40 hour Security Guard License Training and attain First Aid & CPR certification. This is required by the Ontario Ministry of Community Safety and Correctional Services Private Security and Investigative Services. For more information on how Condor can help you with obtaining your security license, click the following link.
A high school education or equivalent is generally required, as is a strong grasp of the English language both verbal and written. Good communication skills are key, as is the ability to learn and carry out standard procedures despite external pressure and stress (for example, following a fire procedure in a fire alarm situation).
There is also the factor of prior work experience. It is not a requirement but is an advantage for a Condominium Concierge to have a background in customer service. This experience could include working in a call center (since concierge deal with many phone calls on a regular basis). Or, customer service experience might include working as an administrative assistant (since concierge write reports, complete logs, and assist residents with booking elevators and amenity rooms). Perhaps customer service experience would include a sales background (since Concierge are considered to be the “face of the building” there is an element of “selling” involved with prospective investors and residents).
How can I get a high-end, luxury Condominium Concierge position?
In addition to the previous three requirements mentioned for the entry-level Concierge position, when applying for the more demanding role of being a Condominium Concierge in a luxury condo, there is other work experience which can give an advantage: prior work experience as a Condominium Concierge.
There are a number of security companies which provide condominiums with personnel who act in the capacity of a Condominium Concierge. These security companies each have their own training standards and company cultures. Similarly, each condominium has its own unique culture and community with their own unique requirements.
Some condo communities require 2 Concierge to work at the same time, side by side at the same desk, and some buildings want only 1 Concierge working at a time. Some condos with larger Concierge Teams require 1 Concierge to stand at the entrance door, greeting persons entering and opening the door as an expression of the luxury experience. Some condos expect more from their Concierge Team than others, and may have a higher pay scale as a result.
Communities which require more from their Concierge also generally expect that candidates serving their community have more in-depth work experience than would candidates for a smaller, less intensive condo community in a less luxurious setting. They want experienced Concierges with experience multi-tasking and running a busy Concierge Desk. They want Concierge who have dealt with a fire alarm or two, and have responded in a water leak situation. High-end condominiums want Concierge with excellent client relations skills. Therefore, prior work experience as a Condominium Concierge does help build one’s resume and capability to meet the service requirements of the Concierge Team in high end, luxury condominium.
Is it difficult to learn how to be a Condominium Concierge in Toronto area?
The answer to this question depends on the individual, however, there are three main challenges: personality & community match, training & learning process, and adapting to the broader team dynamic.
Challenge #1: Personality and Community Match
One of the unique challenges of being a concierge in Ontario is understanding and getting a feel for the community in which you work. Every condominium community is different. You may thrive and excel in one community, yet in a different condominium community, you may feel that the community is just not “the right fit” for your personality.
Some condominium communities prefer a more extroverted, talkative, conversationalist type of Concierge. Other communities might prefer a more introverted, stoic, matter-of-fact kind of personality. And, some condominium communities are a blend of both. Part of the challenge in being a Condominium Concierge in Ontario is finding the right community for you.
Challenge #2: Training and Learning Process
Another challenge is learning a new set of skills. Since the Concierge role blends aspects of security guard work, administrative work, and hotel-style front desk work, there are a number of skills, duties, and responsibilities which one would not necessarily learn from previous work experience. You will need to operate building life safety systems including the fire panel. You will need to use various Condominium Concierge Computer Software to log and release parcels, book amenity rooms, and write digital reports. You will need to learn the building’s policies and rules, and then enforce them, balancing customer service and enforcement within a home to hundreds of different residents.
The training that you receive is critical to preparing you for this role. You should be receiving both in-class training and on-site community-specific training from a qualified, trained individual familiar with the community. You will need to keep learning and improving as you go, and keep updated with any changes in procedure.
Challenge #3: Adapting to the Broader Team Dynamic
You will need to work together with the condo’s entire staff, including Property Management, Administrative Assistants, Superintendents, Cleaners, and regular contractors for Elevators, Fire Panels, etc. You may even have interactions with members of the Condominium’s Board of Directors – the individuals responsible to make financial and other decisions for the entire community, which will impact the Condominium’s environment and future.
You will need to work together effectively with all these entities, who will all form part of your broader team. At times the people may change, as people in companies get promoted, move on, etc. And as the people change, you will need to adapt to new personalities and new styles of work.
You will also need to have an effective working relationship with the fellow Concierge Team members. Concierge generally work within a shift format, for example: morning shift, evening shift, overnight shift. It’s important to establish an effective communication channel so that all team members are on the same page and know what is occurring in the building despite not all working at the same time.
I want to apply for Concierge jobs at Condor Security. How do I get started?
You’re invited to join the team! Apply for whichever job openings you believe fit your interest by visiting Condor’s Career Section here. After evaluating your resume, if there is an opening you might qualify for, a Condor representative will contact you either by phone or email and schedule an interview session.
Condor recommends that if you want a concierge position, you should state this during your interview. If you state your intention to apply as a Condominium Concierge, then your interview will be geared towards understanding if you will be a match with Condor’s requirements for open positions specifically within its condominium client communities.
Applicants for Concierge positions are also recommended to attend their interviews in a full formal business suit. Condor’s Concierge Staff are expected to work and while wearing an upscale, uniformed suit blazer at all times.
Your handwriting and typing skills are also important to demonstrate, since concierge do complete administrative tasks such as writing reports. Condor also recommends doing your best to remain relaxed and positive during the interview. Customer Service will be a large portion of your job responsibilities. Therefore, during the interview you can demonstrate your ability to hold polite, professional, light, and friendly conversation.
Tips for Improving your Condominium Concierge Skills
Tip #1: Improve Your Phone Skills
Be efficient and friendly at the same time. Imagine you’re speaking with a customer face-to-face and then another customer attends the desk. Three seconds later, another resident attends the desk. All three are in a rush and all state they have an urgent matter. At that moment, the phone rings.
It might be a resident reporting a flood, or some other type of emergency, so you cannot ignore that phone call. So, you pick up the receiver and answer the call. You know this may annoy the 3 people that are all waiting (and were there first!).
Concierge are good at multi-tasking and assisting multiple customers. When you receive a phone call you need to have the ability to prioritize and assist the caller with whatever they need in the most effective way possible, yet not be rude about it, and also remain considerate to other persons who also require your assistance. Concierge balance politeness, friendliness, and a light attitude while remaining quick and effective.
Tip #2: Study and Practice your Procedures for Incident Response
It’s difficult to predict when an incident will happen. You never know when the next flood will take place. You never know when there will be a fire alarm. You never know when people will get stuck in an elevator. Concierge prepare for these incidents by studying their emergency procedures and taking time to practice them on a regular basis. Practice can be independent, with a team member, or by requesting a supervisor to provide additional training or performance feedback.
Tip #3: Build Excellent Relations with Residents
Essentially, Condominium Concierge work in peoples’ homes. Residents see Concierge almost everyday. They might pass by Concierge on the way to work, and again when returning home for the evening. Residents should feel comfortable and confident with each Concierge behind the front desk.
Smile often, be respectful, be polite, and work on establishing their respect. They may take some time to evaluate each Concierge’s work before forming an opinion, but overall, if a Concierge is professional, polite, and friendly, residents will extend the same in return.
Condor Security has developed a trademark system for training its staff in the key elements of customer service as a Condominium Concierge. The system is named “Controlling Situations Through Excellent Client Relations.” The premise of the system is that in order to maintain an orderly and safe environment for residents of a condominium community, Concierge are best empowered when they utilize their customer service skills to maintain excellent relations with the residents and guests. This leads to increased cooperation, increased credibility, and promotes security awareness throughout the community.
Interested in becoming a Condominium Concierge or a Condo Security Guard?
Feel free to apply for a position and Join Our Team!
On Combat looks at what happens to the human body under the stresses of combat. It discusses new research findings as to what measures law enforcement “warriors” can take to prevent such debilitations so they can stay in the fight, survive, and win. The authors outline the evolution of combat and the nature of the brave men and women who train their minds and bodies to overcome adversity. On Combat presents new and exciting research on how to train the mind to become inoculated to stress, fear, and even pain. Many law enforcement professionals consider this book an essential read.
You don’t have to be in law enforcement to enjoy this book as it appeals to the general public.
The author, retired Lt. Col. David Grossman from the U.S. Army, outlines in great detail ways in which to deal with high stress level situations both psychologically and physiologically. One of the primary points of focus the author discusses is a condition referred to as “Condition Black.” This is his term for the effects of fear and stress on the human body and mind, resulting in the escalation of a person’s heart rate above approximately175 beats per minute. Symptoms of this condition include deterioration of cognitive processing, loss of peripheral vision and depth perception, auditory exclusion, instinctive reactions instead of rational decision making, and other effects which reduce performance.
The author also outlines various methods of how to train for and manage this condition. One such technique is called “Tactical Breathing,” in which a person inhales through the nose over a period of four seconds, holds for four seconds, then exhales through the mouth for four seconds, followed by holding the breath again for four seconds. This serves to reduce one’s heart rate and increases one’s ability to stay focused on the tasks and objectives at hand.
The book emphasizes how important it is when training for emergency situations that the practice scenarios are as realistic as possible. It also discusses the link between realistic combat video games and how the children who play them can feel as if they actually are in the situations and environments depicted.
Overall this book is an interesting and informative read.
The Gift of Fear is a provocative read that challenges the idea that violent behavior is random and unpredictable. Using thriller-like narrations of actual violent incidents, the author shows that the brain subconsciously picks up on subtle cues that act as precursors to a violent encounter, creating a survival signal known as fear. The Gift of Fear empowers us by validating our intuitions and de-shrouding the mystery of senseless violence.
The concepts discussed in the book make it an essential read for anyone with an interest in safety.
Especially in the context of private security, the ability to recognize credible threats that initially seem benign is an important skill. Although specific cues in predicting various kinds of violent behavior are given (PINS, or pre-incident indicators), de Becker is careful to note that they must be applied within context. The friendly stranger who offers to lend a hand does not always have a secret malicious intent. The book administers a reality check – it is better to be rude than to compromise your own safety. Plenty of anecdotes show how standing your ground and being assertive can stop violent behavior dead in its tracks: a particularly important concept for security personnel in the capacity of both customer service and client security.
Ultimately, I feel this book is not a step-by-step tutorial in managing violent behavior. De Becker emphasizes the point that he generally dislikes checklists, as they can often mislead people into thinking there are shortcuts in making predictions. As much as the PINS look good on paper, they would not inform the intuition of the casual reader who goes on to lead a complacent life after putting down the book. In-line with the Condor core value of Training, the PINS must be consistently recognized and practiced to be ingrained into the officer’s mind, eventually forming into intuition.
The greatest value the book offers is the philosophy that intuition is a powerful tool, an awesome gift of nature that must not be suppressed. De Becker articulates this eloquently: “when you accept the survival signal as a welcome message and quickly evaluate the environment or situation, fear stops in an instant.” The Gift of Fear serves as a rude awakening to the complacent and those who dismiss their intuitions as being irrational. I recommend this book to anybody who wishes to expand their arsenal of tools for officer survival, and to those who want a thrilling read that also comes with practical information.
Sharpening the Warrior’s Edge is the first text which examines survival and combat performance from a scientific perspective. Author Bruce K. Siddle methodically brings together one hundred years of research which identifies the relationship between survival stress, the heart rate and combat performance.
Most importantly, Siddle explores the psychological and spiritual components which establish the warrior mindset. This pioneering test is a must read for present-day warriors, or anyone involved in use of force, combat, or martial arts training.
Bruce Siddle, in his book “Sharpening the Warrior’s Edge,” explores the deterioration in normal functioning which occurs when a person’s heart rate soars too high under extreme stress. The effects are fascinatingly awful!
The book underlines the importance of survival strategies for life-threatening scenarios, which are also applicable for general stress-proofing and performance enhancement to meet ordinary challenges. It is not difficult to identify numerous challenges we face as security guards, which can be very stressful yet ordinary to our line of work. Performing fire procedure in an alarm condition or dealing with verbal abuse from an irate person are examples which come to mind. If you are like me, these situations cause your heart rate to increase.
In addition to training for skill confidence, Siddle promotes 2 techniques: tactical breathing and visualization. During the most recent fire alarm that I experienced at my work site, I noticed that my heart was racing as I made the first intercom announcement. During the 30 second interval before repeating the announcement, I focused on taking slow, deep breaths. From that point on, I was a smooth operator. Tactical breathing works, you just have to remember to do it.
I recommend this book. Although not exhaustive in providing practical techniques for stress management, the book provides useful information which will motivate and perhaps inspire you to try something new or develop other strategies that work for you. It will also contribute to a deeper understanding and greater appreciation for the rigors of our Condor training.
Although more analytical and skeptical readers may find the tale a little too simplistic, its beauty is that it sums up all natural history in just 94 pages: Things change. They always have changed and always will change. And while there’s no single way to deal with change, the consequence of pretending change won’t happen is always the same: The cheese runs out. The point of the story is that we have to be alert to changes in the cheese, and be prepared to go running off in search of new sources of cheese when the cheese we have runs out.
The story starts when a group of good friends meet up after their high school reunion. They begin talking about the past and how it has affected them. One of the friends points out that the entire group of friends are having difficultly adapting to changes in their lives, both in their careers and personal lives. One friend named Michael starts telling everyone how a big change occurred in his business. It was really hard to adapt and the business was failing. Everything changed until he heard a little story about two mice, Sniff and Scurry, and two little people, Hem and Haw, who live inside a maze.
The mice and the people are both looking for special cheese, which they need to survive. The mice, Sniff and Scurry, possess only simple rodent brains but have good instincts. The two little people, Hem and Haw, use their brains filled with beliefs and emotions. As different as the little people and mice are, they share something in common. After finding a large amount of their special cheese, both became very comfortable. They believe that the cheese will never run out. One morning their special cheese was gone. The story then focuses on the process of learning and discovery that the mice and the little people go through on their quest to find a new source of cheese. The story is a metaphor on adapting to change.
The book provides simple lessons, such as: Change Happens (the cheese keeps moving), Anticipate Change (get ready for the cheese to move), Monitor Change (smell the cheese often so you know when it’s getting old), Adapt to Change Quickly (the quicker you let go of old cheese the sooner you can enjoy new cheese), and finally Enjoy Change (savour the adventure and enjoy the taste of new cheese).
I recommend this book as it helps sharpen things in life that we know but rarely do something about them. Be aware of what is happening around you and do not get too comfortable! Always teach yourself new skills that can help you to survive in the fast changing world of ours.