PHOENIX — A bill pending in the Arizona legislature would allow installing security contractors to operate with a single statewide license, reversing the current policy that requires alarm companies to be licensed in individual cities.
Having recently passed the Senate Rules Committee, SB 1277 is expected to be voted on by the full Senate next week. If endorsed as expected the bill would then go to the state House of Representatives for approval.
Passage of the bill would culminate an 11-year effort by the Arizona Alarm Association (AzAA) to create a two-year statewide certification for all alarm companies and their technicians. More than 20 cities currently require alarm companies and each of their agents to annually obtain a criminal background check, license or registration.
“We have a lot of people working really hard to make this happen. I feel very positive about it,” Maria Malice, president of AzAA, tells SSI. “It has been a long time coming.”
The association first lobbied for statewide licensing in 2000 after several cities began to require alarm business licenses. However, protestations by law enforcement agencies effectively killed any chance for the idea to move forward.
Yet AzAA was approached by officials from a group of cities that offered to work toward establishing a statewide licensing policy. Their motivation was twofold, Malice says. Some of the cities’ alarm coordinator offices were losing money, plus there were concerns municipalities could in time lose control in establishing and enforcing alarm ordinances.
“They came to us and said if you let us work on reciprocity — where all the cities will be reciprocal — then you don’t have to spend money for licensing. We said that sounded like a fair trade and we agreed,” says Malice, who is vice president of special projects at Scottsdale, Ariz.-based COPS Monitoring.
In the end only five cities agreed to the arrangement, which left the association no recourse but to again pursue a statewide licensing bill. AzAA’s continued efforts include seeing a similar bill approved in the House last year only for it to be held up in the Senate.
Language in the bill’s current form has been amended to appease previous concerns voiced by municipalities. The result is the legislation is wending its way through the political process without opposition.
“We’ve added some things to the bill to give the cities some control, such as if an alarm company isn’t following their false alarm ordinance they can issue a citation and the state license can’t renew until that citation is cleared up,” Malice says. “That made them happy so they’re not speaking against it now. That really helped us.”
Having a statewide license would especially benefit small alarm dealers, according Tom Eggebrecht, president of Phoenix-based Bonds Alarm Co. Inc. Large operators have the resources to staff employees who handle the business licensing requirements. Whereas a smaller dealer, such as himself, must commit time away from the office travel to each city where a license is required, Eggebrecht says.
“Each year I take the last two weeks in December and all I do is travel around from agency to agency. In some cities I have to take my technicians with me,” he says. “There are a lot of costs involved in that. And a lot of those costs end up being passed along to the consumer. One license would be a dramatic improvement.”