One of the most challenging areas of securing and creating a feeling of safety and security in any casino is the parking area. Parking lots and garages are one of the highest areas of exposure to litigation. The following are some suggestions and methods to make this critical area safer for guests and mitigatie claims and potential litigation.
One way that security establishes a positive presence is by the use of vehicles and equipment that aid in quick and efficient responses. For example, compared to walking, the use of vehicles allows patrol officers to complete their duties up to three times faster, which results in more frequent patrols, ability to respond to emergency situations faster with less physical exertion, and an effect of multiplying the security workforce. This ability of vehicle patrols to act as a workforce multiplier positively impacts the return on investment.
Sport Utility Vehicles
Important factors in choosing a vehicle include a tight turning radius, ability for the driver to have clear and unobstructed views, and comfort. To aid in the recognition of security vehicles, identification numbers should be located on every corner of the vehicle and the rooftop. It is recommended that vehicles be logoed and equipped with an overhead light bar, booster cables, fire extinguisher, defibrillator, first-responder bag and a fire extinguisher system designed for engine fires.
Factors to consider in choosing a bicycle include comfort, flexibility for on- or off-road use, and a lightweight and durable frame. Patrol bicycle accessories include water bottle cage, water bottle, bell, multi-folding tool wrench, tire repair kit, lock, kick stand, seat pack storage bag, tail light and a headlight with steady, flashing and random modes.
Golf carts should be customized, numbered, equipped with overhead lights, and powered by electric, which is environmentally friendly. In addition to being utilized for general patrols, the golf carts can be frequently deployed to transport guests, making them a great customer service tool.
The T3 Motion three-wheel electric bike (above) has the option of being equipped with an LED light kit, siren and a lithium-ion battery kit. With nine inches of added height, this vehicle creates a command presence and allows an officer to see and be seen, improves sightlines, and promotes interaction with people and situations. The officer is perceived as being approachable while carrying a greater presence. The added height also has a similar psychological effect on others, like that of mounted patrols, without the care, attention and expense involved with maintaining a horse.
Automated External Defibrillators (AEDs)
Security vehicles equipped with AED units allow trained personnel to successfully deliver defibrillation. AEDs are safe, effective, lightweight, durable, low-maintenance and easy to use. AEDs interpret heart rhythm and determine if a shock is required.
Fire Extinguisher with Piercing Nozzle
In conjunction with notification to the fire department, the deployment of the fire extinguisher system occurs during the incipient stages of an engine/vehicle fire. Security utilizes a piercing nozzle attached to an extinguisher, approaches the vehicle from the side and punctures the hood, dispersing agent into the engine compartment in a relatively safe and efficient manner without being exposed to smoke or hidden dangers common to vehicle fires.
SkyWatch Tower System
SkyWatch, a mobile surveillance tower by Icx Technologies, provides high-profile deterrence and surveillance capabilities, and acts as a workforce multiplier by allowing fewer personnel to cover a larger area, which has a positive impact on the ROI. With a line of sight greater than that of a two-story roof line, SkyWatch can be placed almost anywhere it is needed.
The use of a laser pointer by outside patrols is a unique and beneficial method of silent communications between officers. Large areas are able to be covered instantly by pointing a laser at the headlight of a vehicle to indicate location, direction and identification. The laser technique has the best results when the laser is pointed at the headlight of a vehicle.
Clear directional signs installed in and around the parking environments aid in the flow of vehicle and pedestrian traffic. Automated tracking and communication of available parking spaces is beneficial to guests and helps to improve traffic flow. Vehicle locator systems are a great customer service tool, and assist the guest in locating their vehicle without the aid of a security representative.
Closed-circuit Television System (CCTV)
CCTV should be strategically located throughout the parking environment and report back to stations that are monitored 24/7/365. If possible, the use of this system should be partnered with 24-hour call boxes strategically located in key areas. Every assistance box should be numbered and have signage indicating the proper operation. Once activated, security should be alerted, immediate audio communication established and visual coverage of the person obtained by the CCTV system. An evaluation of the situation should be conducted and, if necessary, security personnel dispatched.
The basic training for exterior patrols should include the types and nomenclature of vehicles utilized, basic equipment, mandatory equipment and demonstrations of when and how to use equipment. Pre-ride checks and ABC quick-checks include visible inspection of vehicles for any abnormalities and defects.
The riding procedures section of training should include instruction on physical hazards such as rocks, glass, pedestrians and the legal issues that give bike-riders all the rights of the road. Officers should be trained in riding techniques, emergency maneuvers and safe practices to avoid being involved in accidents. The No. 1 cause of bicycle versus vehicle accidents is that the motorist does not see the bicyclist. To aid in preventing this type of event, patrol vehicles should activate their strobe lights to increase visibility.
The security procedures section of training should include interview techniques, how to become invisible while patrolling, securing vehicles, traffic control and ways to maintain a positive image by creating an atmosphere of safety for guests. If these areas are addressed accordingly, claims and potential litigation are mitigated, and guests will feel a strong sense of safety and security and are more likely to continue visiting the property.
Let’s look at displacement and criminal behavior. It has been claimed that the “rational choice” perspective, which sees criminal behavior as an outcome of decisions and choices made by the offender, can provide a useful framework for analyzing crime control policies. This perspective on crime assumes that offenders seek to benefit themselves by criminal behavior and this behavior involves the making of decisions and choices.
Displacement occurs as a result of the implementation of effective measures against crime. Target-hardening displaces offenders to easier targets. The presence of crime opportunities also determines when and where displacement occurs. Displacement is more likely to occur where there are other suitable crime targets. This is contingent upon the offenders’ motivation and familiarity with the crime targets and tactics needed to carry out the crime. Responses that occur adjacent to areas that have unprotected crime targets are more likely to experience some level of displacement compared to those that do not. Awareness of other crime opportunities near your response area allows for anticipation of the possibility of crime movement.
Foreseeability vs. Totality of Circumstances
In the past, courts have determined whether criminal activity is foreseeable by applying a “prior similar acts” approach, in which a crime is not considered foreseeable unless a pattern of similar crimes has occurred at a specific site. The Doe v. Prudential-Bache case, heard before the Georgia Court of Appeals, involved a history of nine prior thefts and three prior acts of violence in an apartment building’s parking garage. The traditional prior similar acts approach was applied and the court determined that the history was insufficient to establish a foreseeable pattern.
In the “totality of the circumstances” approach, courts consider all criminal incidents occurring on a land owner’s property and adjacent properties, as well as other types of evidence such as the nature, location, condition and architectural design of the property. The Clohesy v. Food Circus Supermarkets, Inc. case, heard before the New Jersey Supreme Court, involved a customer that was abducted from the defendant’s parking lot and murdered. The defendant argued that no similar incidents had occurred in the parking lot within a reasonable time prior to this incident. The court applied the totality of the circumstance approach and ruled that the supermarket owner should have foreseen the possibility of the crime and had a duty to provide security.
Some of the factors the court took into consideration in making this decision included prior criminal acts that occurred on and near the supermarket property, location, the absence of security, lack of windows on the side of building where the crime occurred, the increasing level of crime in the neighborhood, the size of the property and parking lot, and the nature and circumstances of nearby businesses.
Parking and outdoor environments have been deemed by some courts to have unique features that are conducive to criminal activity. For example, vehicles and their contents are put on display for thieves. This, coupled with the absence of vehicle owners, provides opportunity, privacy and ample time for thieves or vandals to strike. Security leaders should take the previously listed items under consideration, and if possible, implement these and any other security and safety measures that are indicative of illustrating that the company is supportive in proactively reviewing and, if necessary, revising any procedures, processes or best practices to demonstrate a commitment to safety and security.
These practices could be invaluable in the event that a company is ever in the unenviable position of having to demonstrate that everything was done to prevent an incident from occurring.
A proper blend of tools, equipment, training and CPTED (crime prevention through environmental design) are the key ingredients to a robust, effective and efficient security program. As demonstrated in the previous cases, the courts appear to be shifting to a totality of circumstances approach, which places the burden of increasing security measures on the property owners.
Since there is a significant difference between the foreseeability and totality of the circumstances approaches, it behooves all security practitioners to fully understand in which direction the pendulum of recent court decisions is swinging and trending in their areas of jurisdiction, and implement security measures accordingly.
Best practices for security professionals, regardless of jurisdiction and current trending of court decisions, is to consistently review the criminal statistics of the area, and to regularly analyze the properties’ security needs.
Operators should establish and periodically review a written security plan involving law enforcement, tenants, civil groups and company leaders. If possible, implementation of these and any other security and safety measures illustrates that a company is proactively reviewing and, if necessary, revising any procedures, processes, or best practices to demonstrate a commitment to safety and security.