April 2021 — Property Management Quarterly — Page 25 Management R ecently the city and county of Denver announced a new approach to handling gen- eral complaints about local homeless encampments. These calls now will go to the Early Intervention Team instead of the Denver Police Department with the intention of contacting people expe- riencing homelessness while the groupings are small. Let us leave any debates about the causes, moral obligations, legal ramifications or societal commentary alone for the moment. Now is a good time to take a review of your situa- tion as a property manager. You have an obligation to provide a safe and clean environment for your clients and their customers as well. In order to achieve these goals, there are a number of things to keep in mind regarding homelessness near your property. Do not give food and money as it will only attract more activity to your business. Instead, donate to food banks, charities and nonprofit organizations. Do not provoke but also do not permit encampments and make sure shopping carts, bed- ding and other personal items stay away from your building. Do not ask employees to “deal with it” regarding the removal of homeless people from your property. This is a potentially dangerous situation as it quickly can escalate into aggressive behavior and violence. Injuries of any kind mean financial liability for your business. Managers should avoid confronta- tions, verbal or physical. Put up sig- nage that clearly states loitering is prohibited and that local law enforce- ment will be contacted. Dark corners can attract activity for drugs, loitering, etc., so double- check your lighting. More LED lighting is a cheap and easy fix as is motion- activated lighting. Lock any dump- sters, storage areas and exterior power outlets and make sure any parking areas are properly secured. n Extra consid- erations. There are proactive methods with technology and personnel to address the vagrancy issues on your property. Installing security cameras on the outside of your business can be a great deterrent for loitering and reducing crime in general. If you have video footage, law enforcement will be able to address the issue quicker. Some camera systems can send alerts to your phone if an intrusion happens, and/or instantly call local law enforcement. If you have an area on the property that homeless people are breaking into, these cameras can help by automatically detecting anyone who enters and making sure they are taken off your property in a timely manner. Combine cameras with remote monitoring to drive quicker response time by law enforcement to the scene. Remote monitoring allows trained security agents to monitor feeds from your security cameras and instantly detect situations that need to be dealt with immediately. Two-way speakers allow remote agents to talk to loiterers and ask them to leave. If they refuse, agents can call authorities to remove them from the property. On-site security is the other option for securing your business. Be sure to speak with your security provider about the level of training received in areas such as management of aggres- sive behavior and de-escalation of dangerous situations. Training and preparation for these types of encounters can be vital for the suc- cess of your security program. n In case of a confrontation. Some- times confrontations are unavoid- able. If you encounter people in crisis, mentally ill, under the influence of drugs/alcohol or with suicidal ide- ation, there are some tips that may help you navigate your interaction. It’s important to have situational awareness. Always keep your safety in mind. Be aware of your surround- ings such as ledges, steps, curbs, vehicles and stairways, and avoid contact in a location that compro- mises your safety. Look for preattack cues like furtive glances, clenched fists, potential hidden weapons, and always have a backup plan. De-escalation is important. Try to remain calm and professional while treating others with dignity and respect. No one likes to be told what to do. Instead ask for compliance; don’t demand it. “Would you please” is much more effective than “Shut up and do what I say.” It is important to help people understand why they are being asked to do something. For example, “We’re responsible for the safety of people on our property, and our rules are in place for your safety.” Remind yourself that this interac- tion is not personal. Don’t let others’ actions and words drive your emo- tions and reactions. “I can see that you’re upset. I appreciate your help in resolving this situation.” When words fail: • Fall back on the plan you had in place before the interaction began. • Know your limitations. Be pre- pared to disengage and walk away. • Involve the authorities early on rather than at the last minute, when there are fewer options. n Homelessness is a community issue. Encourage your staff and ten- ants to be involved. If you would like to know more or find out how to help, there are fantastic resources for you to explore. The Metro Denver Homeless Initia- tive was formed in 1994 to coordinate service and housing assistance avail- able from organizations throughout the metro area. Its website is www. Close to Home, http://closetohome-, is a group that is attempting to mobilize metro Denver residents to address the underlying causes of homelessness. It aims to increase understanding so that Denver resi- dents experiencing homelessness are viewed by others, and regard them- selves, as valuable members of our communities. Also, on May 20, ASIS International Denver Mile High Chapter is hosting a webinar Using Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design to Discourage Vagrancy. s Proper protocol for homelessness challenges Kevin Carter Business development manager, security services, GardaWorld, and vice chair, ASIS Denver Mile High Chapter