Written by: Ana Sanchez Rivero
Terrorism! It is a scary word and to think that it can happen anywhere is an even scarier thought. But it is the reality we are faced with today. Despite the increase in terrorist threats in the United States, not a lot of condominium or homeowner associations are discussing this and even less have a plan in place in case a terrorist attack occurs in their community.
According to Victor Guembes, Corporate Manager at Regions Security Services, terrorism is defined as any unlawful act of violence for the purpose of generating change in government. Mr. Guembes, who has a Level III certification by the American Board for Certification in Homeland Security and is a Certified Intelligence Analyst, has created a training course for Regions Security Services. The roots, methods, and types of terrorism as well as elevating the level of awareness through recognizing, reporting and reacting to terrorist threats and attacks are clearly discussed during this training.
Terrorists are usually indoctrinated into believing that sacrificing their life for their cause is the only way to achieve their goal. They use a variety of methods to reach their goal. There are five (5) primary methods: (1) biological; (2) nuclear; (3) incendiary; (4) chemical; and (5) explosive. The most common method being used in the United States is explosive. A weapon of mass destruction (WMD) is any weapon that causes casualty to a significant number of people and property. For example, Timothy McVeigh used a truck in the bombing of the Oklahoma Federal Building and airplanes were used as a weapon in the September 11 attacks.
Anything now a days can be a target. A high-rise condominium or co-op can be a target; especially if there is a high profile individual residing in the community. For example, the CEO of a global company or a former governmental official can reside in a luxury high rise building and in of themselves can be a target. It is important for all of us to be vigilant and play a role to prevent a terrorist attack in our community.
Gathering information and reporting suspicious activity is key to preventing a terrorist attack. Mr. Guembes suggests that any activity that is out of the ordinary should be reported to the police and security officers. We are in the best position to identify something that our neighbor does that is out of ordinary. For example, a resident in Tampa noticed that his neighbors were bringing in large amounts of canisters into their garage. It turned out that the individuals in the unit were storing acid for the purpose of building a bomb. This scenario can easily apply to more common Association matters such as units running a business from their home or possibly selling illegal substances out of their home. Units with a high traffic rate at times seem to raise flags that cannot and should not be ignored.
It is important that the residents be encouraged to provide information to the local authorities. Management and security can play a vital role in the investigation by providing information to government officials. If your Board has not discussed this topic before, perhaps now is the time. It is better to be prepared. For help on how to formulate an Emergency Plan for your community you may contact Regions Security Service by visiting their website at www.regionssecurity.us or you may call them at 877-505-7774. The Federal Bureau of Investigation has put together a checklist entitled Potential Indicators of Terrorist Activities Related to Rental Properties that can be easily apply to condominium and homeowner associations. Click here for that checklist.
If you found this Blog to be helpful and would like to listen to the entire interview with Victor Guembes please click here. Please like it and subscribe to future podcasts of Community Association Matters.