Negligent Security: How Lax Policies and Staffing Shortages Cause Harm

May 19th, 2017 by Wapner Newman

Pennsylvania Negligent Security Lawyer

Wapner Newman successfully resolved a case in which a man and his friend were attacked in a casino parking garage. The criminals killed the man, seriously wounded his friend, and drove off in the victim’s car.

This tragic crime wasn’t the first to occur at that location. Just 16 months earlier, carjackers targeted a casino patron and stabbed him to death. Following that murder, casino officials did increase security, but only during peak hours. The second carjacking happened in the morning.

In the ensuing investigation, evidence emerged indicating the casino had not taken reasonable steps to protect its patrons. Specifically:

  • Many of the security cameras in the garage weren’t working.
  • Management knew about the non-working cameras and took no action to repair them.
  • The casino had no policy requiring security personnel to monitor live camera footage.
  • The garage cameras were fixed on a single point, despite the fact that in the first carjacking, details of the crime weren’t visible because the suspects walked out of the camera’s field of view.
  • Cameras inside the casino – those intended to prevent theft – did have the ability to pan back and forth, unlike the garage cameras.

Investigators also learned that due to budgetary concerns, the casino had reduced its security force by 60 percent in a seven-year period.

The Effects of Cost-Cutting Measures

Security Magazine recounts an incident in which a large apartment complex hired a security firm to provide video-monitoring services for its property. The firm believed that it should also have one of its security employees on the property, because video monitoring was insufficient. But the property owner – citing budgetary concerns – rejected that recommendation. A few months later, a young child wandered out of view of playground cameras and suffered serious injuries, playing on an unmonitored security gate.

Cameras alone are not effective in preventing violence and injuries. Someone who is remotely monitoring camera footage can’t physically intervene when they witness a threatening situation on their monitor. And in some cases, tragedies occur because there aren’t enough security workers to monitor video feeds.

A young boy in Brooklyn died when he became entrapped in his apartment complex’s rolling security gate. Residents reported that they had repeatedly told management the boy and his friends were playing on or around the motorized gate, and that management had done nothing to stop the children from doing so. Surveillance footage showed that at the time of the accident, a security guard was watching 16 video feeds from 350 cameras and looking at his laptop.

According to Bloomberg News, in 2016, more than 200 violent crimes occurred at Walmart stores throughout the United States. Crimes have increased since the chain started eliminating positions. Bloomberg says: “The company has one worker for every 524 square feet of retail space, a 19 percent increase in space per employee from a decade ago.”

Putting Dollars Before People

Most cases of negligent security involve a similar pattern: A firm wants to save money, so it reduces staffing levels, or skimps on security measures, and someone winds up getting hurt. It’s unfortunate that so many companies are willing to take that risk with other people’s safety.