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Excerpts from article by Stan Martin of SIAC
Across the country, police agencies are adopting alarm policies based on research and best practices that dramatically reduce false alarms while maintaining response by highly trained police officers. In many cases, these policies pay for the cost of police response. Fewer than 18 of the nation’s approximately 18,000 public safety agencies (or .001%) have adopted the extreme approach of verified response. We are not aware of any national public safety organizations supporting this approach.
Studies from Rutgers University and UNC Charlotte Department of Criminal Justice and Criminology show that alarm systems are a highly effective deterrent. The study delivers empirical data on the value of alarms to the community, reporting that crime is reduced and not moved to another area and, after removing other factors, that the reduction in burglaries extended geographically far beyond the protected premises. The study is further validated by another study conducted by the University of North Carolina at Charlotte where they interviewed prison inmates that are serving time for burglary. According to the study 83 percent of burglars said they would try to determine whether there was an alarm present before attempting a burglary and 60 percent said they would seek an alternate target if there is an alarm on site.
Another study showed that alarm owners often do bear the full cost of police response. Montgomery County, Maryland not only saved $6 million through use of best practices in alarm management, but also generated $500,000 in revenue above the cost of the program.
A Model Alarm Ordinance requires registration of alarm systems with local police, a fine structure, new equipment standards, suspension of response to chronic abusers and Enhanced Call Verification (ECV). ECV (two-call verification) requires that alarm monitoring stations attempt to confirm an alarm by calling the site and the alarm user to determine whether the signal is valid before requesting dispatch. Statistics from public safety enforcing model ordinances report that 85 percent of all alarm users have NO responses in any given year and another 8-9 percent have only one. When the Model Ordinance is adopted and enforced with no free responses it has delivered as high as a 90 percent reduction in dispatches. While verified response may have seemed like the only solution when it was first proposed more than two decades ago, modern technology, research and new best practices have made it a non-starter for public safety agencies and citizens when they are offered a better alternative.