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Self-Storage and Law Enforcement: Why and How to Build a Partnership With Local Police

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By Rick Beal

The 5-O. The fuzz. Johnny Law. Whatever you choose to call the men and women in law enforcement, sometimes it seems you call them more than your delinquent self-storage tenants! If you operate a storage facility, it’s important to have a positive relationship with police in which both sides benefit. Here’s why to establish a valuable partnership with your local department and several ways to build it.

Realize the Benefits

In the mid-ˋ90s, there was a shift in law-enforcement agencies nationwide and the term “community-oriented policing” was coined. It was an initiative through which police attempted to work with members of the community—as a whole—in a proactive approach to address public concerns. You can probably think of a few examples in your own area, such as officers on bikes, “shop with a cop” or other programs. Services that highlight personal interaction between police officers and citizens are cases of community policing.

Often, agencies assign police officers to specific areas to help champion these causes. They’re designated to a region or neighborhood to improve community relations. These aren’t the officers you see driving in police cars, making traffic-violation stops, directing traffic after a car crash or other duties. The goal for these officers is to interact with the public, and their assignments are often for an extended period.

If you’re in a large city, this can be a big advantage for your self-storage business. These officers often help plan community events. How beneficial would it be to team up with the safety officer in your area to hold a public event at your facility—with a few rental coupons, of course!

If you haven’t already, take the time to become an active part of your community and build relationships with local law enforcement. There may be more advantages than you may think. (On a side note, from my experience, I guarantee they know more about what’s going on around your facility than you would ever want to know.) Now let's get to how you can build these partnerships.

Create a Relationship

It was about 2 a.m. when I got a call on my cell phone. “Rick! Hey, man, I don’t know what’s going on with your gate, but it just seems to be opening and closing.” This was a call I received from a police officer who works in the neighborhood and whom I had gotten to know pretty well. I thanked him, and then asked if he could troubleshoot for me. He agreed, which not only saved me from having to head to the facility in the middle of the night but ensured the property was once again secure.

Think of a customer you really like, one who has been friendly to you. You remember that person, don’t you? You would look out for him, wouldn’t you? Let me give you a little hint: The same feelings can apply with law enforcement.

If you get to know the officers who work in your neighborhood, you’ll realize they’re just people, same as you and me. How can you develop a more positive relationship with them? Send bagels or coffee to their morning briefings as a thank you (not donuts!). Deliver a basket filled with cookies, fruit or muffins to your local precinct one afternoon. If they’re involved with a charitable organization or hosting a community event, find out how you can help. You might even request to participate in a ride-along to get to know the officers better.

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