Here’s the logic: you can’t put a price on your family’s safety so you pay a massive amount every month for armed response. This brings some peace of mind and hopefully helps keep the bad guys away, but are they working as hard for you as they could? Here are some tips to make sure they do:
•Understand their operational rules of engagement in the event of an emergency on your property. Many, especially the national brands, will not enter your property even if they know there is an intrusion underway. They will wait outside for the police to arrive. There are many reasons for this including that they don’t want to risk escalating the violence where innocent people could get hurt and take legal action against them later. Some of these are very valid reasons, but you need to understand what will happen and make sure you’re happy with it. Some, especially the local companies, are more proactive in such circumstances.
•Are they truly proactive or reactive? Every security company says they proactive in the fight against crime. But does your company really mean it? Do they stop and question unknown people acting suspiciously, even if they are outside a competitor client house? Do they encourage you to call in anything that doesn’t look right even if it means more man-hours for them to investigate? Do they encourage you to use a meet-and-greet service when you’re nervous returning home late or charge you extra for it?
•Negotiate collectively with your community to get enhanced protection. For example get 40 other houses in the surrounding streets to say they will use the armed response company that commits to putting in a permanent guard, a boom, security cameras or just increased patrolling. If you can make the maths good enough,
these profit-driven companies will often make these investments to win or retain business.
•Do they cooperate with local SAPS stations, CPFs, Neighbourhood Watches and even competitors? A good armed response company, with the communities interests at heart, will happily have constructive relationships with all of the above including regular meetings for sharing of intelligence.
•Do they use new tools to help share intelligence? Your armed response company should be participating in community WhatsApp, BBM and Facebook groups to, for example, post “BOLO alerts” (Be on Look Out), crime patterns and outcomes. They should do this in an open, constructive and non-commercial way.
•Have they assessed your property and do they know it? Every house and every garden is different. Your armed response company should visit it, know the layout and who lives/ works there. They should also be able to offer advice on any points of security weakness (which are often from neighbouring properties rather than the street).