Parking Facility Safety: Crime Prevention
In a previous article in the February 2020 issue of Parking Today, we address parking facility safety and security. That article focused on the concept that parking management and staff should be active and aggressive in looking at all facilities, including garages and parking lots, with a critical eye for safety and security. The important areas of appearance, including lighting, signage, landscape, closed circuit television (CCTV), communications, and staff training were addressed. This article takes a deeper dive into protecting parking facilities and training staff to handle emergencies.
Parking garages and/or parking lots that are unkempt or rundown invite criminal activity.
Owners and operators of parking garages and lots should strive to have facilities that are attractive and pleasing to the eye. It is no secret that customers and parking staff desire a facility that is safe and secure for all. Investors and owners build parking facilities where there is a customer base that can financially support a garage or lot. By design, most parking facilities are in major urban or downtown metropolitan areas. Unfortunately, often these areas also are where there is an increase in property and personal crime. Starting in the 1960s a positive approach to crime prevention, “the broken window” concept was developed.
The “broken window” concept has been effective in prevention of crime nationwide, especially in urban or downtown areas. This concept demonstrates how neglected buildings and other property invites criminal activity. In our industry, parking garages and/or parking lots that are unkempt or rundown invite criminal activity. As mentioned in the previous article, the perception of safety and security is very important to the customer and to the financial stability of a facility. Addressing the dilapidated condition of parking garages and parking lots is a great first step.
In addition to the “broken windows” concept, there are several other programs that have evolved over the years to fight criminal activity. One program that has wide acceptance is Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design (CPTED). This program is a wide-reaching approach to the physical environment of facilities. The program focuses on actions to reduce or prevent the opportunity for crime. A web search for CPTED ( https://cpted.net/ ) will provide areas to examine the principles and training available to staff members and management.
Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design is based on four main principles:
Keep all areas well lit
Eliminate hiding spots
Use low and thorny shrubbery
Natural Access Control: Move automobiles and pedestrians through well-lit and controlled areas, pathways, and known visible lanes.
Territorial Reinforcement: Office staff should have clear visibility
The use of Panic Buttons for staff and customers should be considered
Maintenance: A well-maintained facility sends a message to the potential criminal that staff notice and care. This will discourage vandalism.
Hardening the office with safety glass and strong doors will help to prevent a break in.
Certainly, the use of CPTED principles makes sense in the design or new garages and parking lots. However, a thorough review of these principles is valid for existing facilities. Staff training is available at several sites and easily found by a web search of CPTED. An example check list for facilities can be found at: https://static.secure.website/wscfus/9694344/uploads/CPTED_checklist.pdf
Initial and repetitive staff and management training is required in many areas of the operation. For example, training on the use of the company’s computer system and financial accountability are critical to a success of a parking facility. Customer service training lays out the expectations for staff and management interaction with customers. However, an often-overlooked area for staff and management training is: What actions do staff and management take during an emergency?
As indicated in the previous article, the concepts of “Run, Hide, Fight” form an excellent foundation for staff and management actions and reactions to an active shooter situation. However, there are other emergency situations that have a greater probability of occurring in a parking garages or parking lots. For example, what if a customer or staff member has an apparent heart attack in the facility? Are members of the facility staff and management prepared to offer lifesaving first aid until professional medical staff can arrive?
The initial care provided by trained staff can make a difference. Leaders can create a safer workplace with OSHA-compliant training from the American Red Cross in preforming Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation (CPR). Another step-in facility safety could be the purchase and training on use of an Automated External Defibrillator (AED). Again, a web search of CPR and or AED training will provide several safety experts. The American Red Cross can help with flexible training solutions designed to fit any organization.
There are other emergency situations in which highly trained staff and/or management can be instrumental in saving lives. Whether it is an active shooter event, vehicular accident, of a fall by staff or customers, there can be significant loss of blood. The Department of Homeland Security provides pertinent information on a program entitled ‘Stop the Bleed”. (https://www.dhs.gov/stopthebleed) The concept is to have in the facility at an assessible location a “Stop the Bleed Kit”. Such kits can be found with a web search at varying costs points. A typical kit will include gloves, tourniquet, emergency bandages, trauma sheers, and gauze. These accessible kits coupled with professional staff training can save lives or reduce pain and suffering.
Giving professional CPR when needed, confident use of an AED, and competence in controlling the loss of blood should be part of critical staff and management training. Such training must be provided at time of hire and refreshed annually. Basic lifesaving first aid can and does save lives.
The responsibility to prepare the staff and management for emergency situations falls to the owner or operator. High on the priority list should be concern about prevention of criminal activity and the training of staff to handle potential emergencies. The best-case scenario is that criminal activity or emergencies do not happen. Training in these areas may never be needed. The reward is that when emergency training is needed, the facility staff and management are trained to respond and lives are saved. Staff training should be a high priority.
Bob Harkins is CEO of Harkins Consulting LLC. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org