Photo by Erica Techo.
Will Posey has a closed-circuit video surveillance system, alarm system and guns at his Lake Cyrus home for increased security.
Montasir Osman has lived in Lake Cyrus for a year and a half, and until a few weeks ago his home security consisted of an alarm system and guns in a safe.
However, after fellow Lake Cyrus resident Mike Gilotti was shot and killed outside his home in January, Osman added wireless security cameras to his system. He’s one of many Lake Cyrus residents who have taken individual precautions to boost security and keep their families safe since January.
And the Lake Cyrus community as a whole also is taking action. The day after Gilotti’s death, Lake Cyrus residents met to discuss neighborhood-wide security measures such as gates, private security services and surveillance. Nancy Smith, spokeswoman for the Lake Cyrus Homeowners Association, said several options were presented to homeowners at the end of February.
“What we’ve been doing in the last few months is gathering information,” Smith said. “It takes a while to get the information from all the vendors together.”
Osman said he knows the community is talking about taking collective action, “but until that happens, I wanted something additional.”
Will and Lauren Posey also chose to take extra security steps after Gilotti’s death. They have lived in Lake Cyrus for six months and pre-wired their home for closed-circuit security cameras during construction, but Lauren Posey said Gilotti’s death and the birth of their son led them to re-examine their options.
“When something so tragic happens so close, it causes you to re-evaluate or re-assess what you have going on,” she said. “The cameras were always nice to have, but we kind of stepped up the system down there since that happened.”
The Poseys now have battery backup on their security system, have installed an alarm system and receive text message alerts when a camera is activated. Lighting has also been a key resource, Will Posey said.
They have LED lights in all of their outdoor fixtures and have repositioned them to point outward on their street and the side of their home, he said.
“There’s been a big move in the neighborhood to everyone to keep their lights on all the time,” Lauren Posey said.
Osman, even though his family has three types of security, sees a neighborhood-wide effort as a necessary next step. While surveillance cameras could help catch criminals, Osman said they also run the risk of being damaged and include a need for someone to monitor the cameras. A gate or private security service would be his preferred plan.
“I think everyone is on the same page related to the gates,” Osman said. “We all believe the gates need to be posted. That would be the first step.”
Right now, Osman said the neighborhood has too many exit and entrance points. Installing a gate at the back entrance would eliminate one of those points, while keeping an entrance open for people driving to and from Brock’s Gap Elementary, he said. Posey said the gates could also deter criminals coming from Bessemer.
Although gates and private security could be costly options, Will Posey said with around 1,000 homes in Lake Cyrus, they are options the neighborhood could afford.
“I think it’s something everyone is willing to spend,” he said.
An economical option residents are working toward in the meantime is a neighborhood watch. Officer Brian Hale with the Hoover Police Department has communicated with the neighborhood about establishing a program since the Jan. 6 homeowners association meeting.
“Unfortunately it’s taken a tragedy like that [Gilotti’s death] maybe for something positive to come out of it, and that is neighbors wanting to know other neighbors,” Hale said.
A neighborhood watch is a cheap, if not cost-free, option because it involves increased communication rather than new technology or fixtures, Hale said.
“As far as the economic benefit, you can spend thousands of dollars on all kinds of crime prevention tools, but if you get down to old-fashioned knowing who your neighbors are, that doesn’t cost anything,” he said.
Will Posey said even with an official neighborhood watch, their first line of defense will continue to be their immediate neighbors. They stay in touch when leaving town or having work done on their homes, and inform each other of potentially suspicious activity.
“That’s the biggest thing,” he said. “I think that’s really a neighborhood watch within itself, without the signs.”
Posey said he has seen increased communication between neighbors as well as extra precautions by individuals. While those are positive steps from a tragic event, he said it is important to continue those changes.
“It’s already moving out of their minds,” he said. “So people need to remember to keep turning their lights on.”