The following post, Park and Recreation Security, is a portion of an article be published in a Park and Recreation Publication later this year. We wanted to share it with you now.
There is no one-size-fits-all approach to park and recreation security. Much depends on present conditions: if the facility is experiencing security issues or if situations are relatively calm. In either case, park administrators should consider the following items. We call these the “easy steps” when it comes to park and recreation security, because they often can be accomplished quickly at minimal cost. Among them are the following:
- Analyze park lighting and make sure no areas of the park are dark at night.
- Develop a neighborhood park adoption program. Residents with “eyes on the park” patrol the park and, in time, get to know the regular park users and those that are not. Those considering doing harm are also aware of these “eyes” and may look for a different park to carry out their activities.
- Report all illegal or dangerous activity in the park so that police can log these activities.
- Make sure locks are placed on all dumpsters and trash containers, as these tend to attract unsavory activities.
- Contact other park and recreation administrators to see what steps they are taking to ensure park security. Sharing security information can pay dividends.
- Install secure fencing. This helps enclose the park and makes it easier to close the park entirely after hours.
- Install emergency call boxes and emergency locator systems, connected to a dedicated center for public safety, throughout the park.
- Make sure all park employees undergo background checks.
- Ensure opening and closing hours are posted in the park. This makes it harder for offenders to “rationalize” their being in the park after hours and can help deter unwanted activity.
Park and Recreation Security and the Risk Audit
Let us say a park’s administrator has taken the steps noted above, however, illegal, unsavory, or dangerous behavior continues to be a problem in their park. This likely is the time to call in a risk prevention firm to conduct a risk audit. This type of audit helps identify weak points in the park property and oversight that should be addressed and provides recommendations to ensure the ongoing safety of park staff, users, and assets.
For instance, we just mentioned the need to install secure fencing around the property. Once installed, administrators may believe this issue no longer needs to be addressed. Far from it. A risk audit often reveals areas that need attention, such as trees that have grown over the fencing, making it relatively easy for unsavory characters to enter the park after hours.
The risk audit may also uncover the following:
- Confusing layouts. It should be easy for park users to find an exit quickly should it be necessary.
- Visibility of washrooms. Hidden washrooms are often centers of unwanted activity; in addition, the audit will determine if there are clear sight lines to playing fields, tennis courts, playgrounds etc.
- Call for help. If installed, these should be readily available throughout the park.
- Concealed areas. These areas can be home-away-from-home for unsavory characters that might do harm.
- Vandalism. One of the things park administrators should know is that vandalism attracts more vandalism. This is especially true of graffiti. All forms of vandalism should be addressed as soon as they are found.
- Loitering areas. These areas tend to develop over time and when they do, problems associated with loitering can build. A risk audit should pinpoint areas that lend themselves to loitering and provide suggestions on how to prevent loitering from becoming a problem.
- Staff training. Many workers at park and rec centers are transitory. Often, they are young people who work just one season. A training program should be in place that can easily but thoroughly teach risk awareness and prevention methods to all new staffers.
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Chief Executive Officer