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  • Traffic Enforcement in Private Communities

    I have researched countless hours on the internet, spoke with my state's licensing boards (no help), spoke with local PD (you can guess how that went) and everywhere else I can think of.

    I have a couple of current clients and a potential client that have inquired about us doing Speed/Traffic Enforement inside their Private Communities/Private Property.

    The thought of providing this service without having a concrete answer of the legalities scares the piss out of me. It has the potential to be a money maker and another service that we can provide.

    Any insight on this subject would be greatly appreciated.

  • #2
    I don't think entering into anything without clear legal consent is a good idea either. We bought a "speed trailer" that we post in various parking lots to let people know just how fast they are going. These could also be used on private streets.

    You could start out by having the homeowners associate send out a letter to residents stating that speeding is a problem and they were contracting with an agency who would be monitoring the speeds in the community and reporting them to the HOA for follow up action.

    Your officers could then move a speed trailer into the community and man it.

    There are also police departments that loan out radar units to citizens and the information is then used in a letter stating that their vehicle was observed travelling in excess of the posted speeds.


    Making actual vehicle stops and taking enforcement action is a real murky area and I think there are better ways to tackle the situation that will decrease your liability substantially.

    Comment


    • #3
      Yeah, We did not set out selling this service but it has been requested so we figured we could look into the legalities and liability issues of it.

      We do have a couple of Radar Units and have done Speed Evaluations in a couple of our communities and forwarded the info to the Home Owner's Association.

      Now we are getting the request for possibly enforcement with some sort of "HOA Citation". Also as I stated before we have a bid in for Gate Access services with intergrated patrol and the Contact Person is requesting a quote for this service.

      I have no idea what to do!
      Last edited by CAP; 12-16-2007, 06:43 AM.

      Comment


      • #4
        CorpSec provided some GOOD info on how to handle this problem.

        I understand the HOA your working for want the extra enforcement, but making traffic stops could be real bad for you.

        I don't know what state your in, but as I have learned over and over again on this site, that makes a world of difference on alot of things.

        I can tell you that in California you cannot make traffic stops. You would be impersonating a police officer, and could be arrested, or sued by the people your stopping. Your veh's, if they were equiped with emergency lights and/or a siren, would alone get you in legal trouble, even if never used.

        There have been prior posts on this forum about making traffic stops, and you might refer to them for some info, but since you are POSSIBLY talking about an issue that could end up causing your people to get arrested, or causing your company to get sued, you had better know all the legalities of what your doing before you do anything.

        You even have to take into account things like your guys causing someone to crash and get hurt because they (the people getting stopped) were scared and decided to run (either on foot, or in their vehicle).

        How would you make the stop? Can you lawfully use the same colored lights as the police department uses to make stops. Would you use a siren, and is that lawful.

        If you were to go the route of issuing some sort of notice through the HOA that someone's vehicle was seen speeding, and that person gets fined, you better be prepared to get sued if you cannot prove that the owner of the vehicle was driving the vehicle.

        Also, nothing against anyone who does any posting after my post, but if they give you some answer to your question, and you follow it, and their wrong, you bite the bullet, not them.

        So, my final-final on this one is tell the HOA you can't do any enforcing now, but you will continue to look into the legalities of the issue. If they don't like the answer, tell them that the HOA will most assuredly also get sued, and possibly the board members themselves might be civilly sued. That usually helps people to decide caution is better.

        Good luck.

        Comment


        • #5
          Originally posted by bpdblue View Post
          CorpSec provided some GOOD info on how to handle this problem.

          I understand the HOA your working for want the extra enforcement, but making traffic stops could be real bad for you.

          I don't know what state your in, but as I have learned over and over again on this site, that makes a world of difference on alot of things.

          I can tell you that in California you cannot make traffic stops. You would be impersonating a police officer, and could be arrested, or sued by the people your stopping. Your veh's, if they were equiped with emergency lights and/or a siren, would alone get you in legal trouble, even if never used.

          There have been prior posts on this forum about making traffic stops, and you might refer to them for some info, but since you are POSSIBLY talking about an issue that could end up causing your people to get arrested, or causing your company to get sued, you had better know all the legalities of what your doing before you do anything.

          You even have to take into account things like your guys causing someone to crash and get hurt because they (the people getting stopped) were scared and decided to run (either on foot, or in their vehicle).

          How would you make the stop? Can you lawfully use the same colored lights as the police department uses to make stops. Would you use a siren, and is that lawful.

          If you were to go the route of issuing some sort of notice through the HOA that someone's vehicle was seen speeding, and that person gets fined, you better be prepared to get sued if you cannot prove that the owner of the vehicle was driving the vehicle.

          Also, nothing against anyone who does any posting after my post, but if they give you some answer to your question, and you follow it, and their wrong, you bite the bullet, not them.

          So, my final-final on this one is tell the HOA you can't do any enforcing now, but you will continue to look into the legalities of the issue. If they don't like the answer, tell them that the HOA will most assuredly also get sued, and possibly the board members themselves might be civilly sued. That usually helps people to decide caution is better.

          Good luck.
          Very good advice on this, I would like to add, for what it's worth:

          To the extent of my knowledge (keep in mind I am only able to speak of my work experience in Pennsylvania) that one of the companies I worked for who had lawsuits over traffic stops at a private community were only at NON gated communities. As far as I know, there hasn't been any successful lawsuits for traffic stops in gated communities that I have worked in.

          Actually, I was working in a private (non gated ) community and I conducted a traffic stop for a broken headlight. A kid was driving, the old man flipped, got out of his car to confront me. He ignored any commands to return to his car. I was only carrying OC spray (I was young and stupid) and I found out than the radio didn't transmit (Thanks VSP!!) I do pull the OC spray out, but keep it behind my back, and keep telling him to get back in the car, "Sir, please return to your vehicle." The guy now starts buggin out over the fact that I pulled the OC spray out of the holster. He kept telling me I would loose my job and he would sue me and the company. Getting no where with the guy, I retreated to the patrol vehicle (no on site back up, THANKS again VSP!) he approaches the drive side door and demands my supervisors name and phone number and my name. I gave him my supervisor name (the GM, actually) the office number and my badge number. I ended breaking off the traffic stop and returned to the community club house and immediately called my captain whom was in charge of me in a different area and told her what happened. Her response was I had nothing to worry about b/c I did nothing wrong. A few hours later PSP arrives on property and ends up talking with me. It turns out the guy who I had the confrontation reported me to PSP. I told them what happenend and one of the troopers response was (there were four there) you didn't do anything one of us would have done in your situation. No charges where filled against me as I was lawfully performing my duty as a security guard in a private community.

          I was also informed by a mall manager where I worked at a CVS that security can conduct traffic stops and issue community fines in a private community due mainly to one fact. By living in the community, residents agree to abide by the rules and regulations set forth by the HOA/POA.

          Have you discussed this with your lawyer yet? Personally I would start there, an attorney should be able to tell you if there are any laws in your state that would ban security from conducting traffic stops in a private community.

          Best to you!

          Comment


          • #6
            A Solution

            A gated entrance/exit is the best way to enforce private community regulations. I'm assuming that the regulations are included in the bylaws and the owners have agreed to it.

            The next step is to require owner approval for any visitors. The owners agree that they are responsible for the conduct of their guests, including any fines for traffic violations. Once you observe the violation, you write the citation to the owner, not the visitor - no stops involved.

            Visitors are stopped at the gate on the way in to verify guest status. Habitual offenders are not permitted to enter. Check with legal counsel on the specifics, but this will help you avoid making traffic stops and risking death in the process.
            Security: Freedom from fear; danger; safe; a feeling of well-being. (Webster's)

            Comment


            • #7
              Originally posted by Mr. Security View Post
              A gated entrance/exit is the best way to enforce private community regulations. I'm assuming that the regulations are included in the bylaws and the owners have agreed to it.

              The next step is to require owner approval for any visitors. The owners agree that they are responsible for the conduct of their guests, including any fines for traffic violations. Once you observe the violation, you write the citation to the owner, not the visitor - no stops involved.

              Visitors are stopped at the gate on the way in to verify guest status. Habitual offenders are not permitted to enter. Check with legal counsel on the specifics, but this will help you avoid making traffic stops and risking death in the process.

              That is a terrific way to handle this.
              "Gun control, the theory that 110lb. women have the "right" to fistfight with 210lb. rapists. " Author Unknown

              Comment


              • #8
                I've spoke with a Pennsylvania DA who, In her opinion didn't see anything wrong with making stops on private property. We didn't talk in-depth about it, but i'm sure some police officers wouldn't like the idea very much, private property or not.
                "Nothing in all the world is more dangerous than sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity." - Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

                Comment


                • #9
                  Originally posted by BadBoynMD View Post
                  I've spoke with a Pennsylvania DA who, In her opinion didn't see anything wrong with making stops on private property. We didn't talk in-depth about it, but i'm sure some police officers wouldn't like the idea very much, private property or not.
                  See the thing is, barring any law against it, it really doesn't matter if some police officers like or not.

                  I know of two communities in the area that do run radar and do traffic stops. They are very professional in it and do not engage in any type of pursuit, if someone runs from them they continue to follow and a normal speed to get a direction of travel for LE, and that's it.

                  They just explain to LE why they attempted to stop them and their actions, sometimes LE follows up on it and looks for them, and sometimes they don't.
                  SecurityProfessional is Back up and running!

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by CAP View Post
                    I have researched countless hours on the internet, spoke with my state's licensing boards (no help), spoke with local PD (you can guess how that went) and everywhere else I can think of.

                    I have a couple of current clients and a potential client that have inquired about us doing Speed/Traffic Enforement inside their Private Communities/Private Property.

                    The thought of providing this service without having a concrete answer of the legalities scares the piss out of me. It has the potential to be a money maker and another service that we can provide.

                    Any insight on this subject would be greatly appreciated.
                    Your corporate counsel should be able to advise you. As far as I know, a private community has the right to establish and enforce just about any type of regulation within the "common area" of the community, including its roadways and parking areas.

                    The test for what regulations the community can enforce might be the ability to show that it has a legitimate interest in regulating certain behavior.

                    If so, the community probably could not require everyone to wear a purple hat while in the common area as it could not show that it has a legal interest in purple hats, but the community would have no difficulty whatsoever showing that it has a legitimate interest in providing traffic control for the safety of residents and visitors. Any number of private communities enforce regulations pertaining to traffic, parking, noise, nuisance, abandoned vehicles, etc. This is part of what makes them attractive to potential home buyers, so this ability to control the living environment actually has demonstrable economic value. Here's a link to Viper Security in Kalamazoo, for instance, who advertise that they provide speed enforcement (among other services) in private communities: http://www.vipermi.com/patrol.htm

                    I believe there are one or two states where there are particular statutes that would come into play, such as the requirement that only a police officer can have an abandoned vehicle towed. These are few and far between, though. Again, consult corporate counsel for the details.
                    Last edited by SecTrainer; 12-17-2007, 02:19 PM.
                    "Every betrayal begins with trust." - Brian Jacques

                    "I can't predict the future, but I know that it'll be very weird." - Anonymous

                    "There is nothing new under the sun." - Ecclesiastes 1:9

                    "History, with all its volumes vast, hath but one page." - Lord Byron

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      One thing to be sure of, is that the private community streets are actually private streets.

                      Ive lived in private communities where the roads were actually considered public streets and the county and HOA shared issues. The HOA could not issue moving infractions, but the County could, and on the flipside, the HOA and county could BOTH issue parking violations. So it was weird.

                      Ive also worked on a Port where everyone thought the main roadway was private when infact it was a public street.

                      Ive done traffic stops on sites, but never for traffic violations. Ive stopped cars primarily for trespassing, or for suspicious/odd behavior.
                      "Alright guys listen up, ya'll have probably heard this before, Jackson vs. Securiplex corporation; I am a private security officer, I have no State or governmental authority. I stand as an ordinary citizen. I have no right to; detain, interrogate or otherwise interfere with your personal property-... basically all that means is I'm a cop."-Officer Ernie
                      "The Curve" 1998

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Laws aside, there is a training aspect that should be considered. Please don’t take offense but msofin’s scenario is a key example of inadequate traffic stop training. From a tactical perspective, that stop was an absolute failure and could have easily ended very differently.
                        I believe I speak for everyone here sir, when I say, to Hell with our orders.
                        -Lieutenant Commander Data
                        sigpic

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                        • #13
                          Repeat after me:

                          1. I will not engage in a vehicle stop without a means to end a deadly threat.
                          2. I will not engage in a vehicle stop without tactical training in conducting vehicle operations.
                          3. I will not allow a citizen who has been stopped to run my traffic stop.
                          4. I will recognize threats to my safety and take immediate steps to protect myself from someone attempting to run my traffic stop.

                          Having conducted traffic stops on private property, I can honestly say that no one runs my stop but me. If its for non-criminal violation, there's the gate, leave. If its for a criminal violation, they're going to jail anyway, are they not? Take them there.
                          Some Kind of Commando Leader

                          "Every time I see another crazy Florida post, I'm glad I don't work there." ~ Minneapolis Security on Florida Security Law

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Originally posted by N. A. Corbier View Post
                            Repeat after me:

                            1. I will not engage in a vehicle stop without a means to end a deadly threat.
                            2. I will not engage in a vehicle stop without tactical training in conducting vehicle operations.
                            3. I will not allow a citizen who has been stopped to run my traffic stop.
                            4. I will recognize threats to my safety and take immediate steps to protect myself from someone attempting to run my traffic stop.
                            What more is there to say?
                            formerly C&A

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Originally posted by N. A. Corbier View Post
                              they're going to jail anyway, are they not? Take them there.
                              Uhhh.... around here the jail would have you and the prisoner bunk up if you tried that.
                              "Alright guys listen up, ya'll have probably heard this before, Jackson vs. Securiplex corporation; I am a private security officer, I have no State or governmental authority. I stand as an ordinary citizen. I have no right to; detain, interrogate or otherwise interfere with your personal property-... basically all that means is I'm a cop."-Officer Ernie
                              "The Curve" 1998

                              Comment

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