ORLANDO, Fla. — The Alarm Association of Florida (AAF) has honored two law enforcement professionals for their work in alarm management. On March 18, AAF presented U.S. Marshal for Middle District Florida William (Bill) Berger and the Security Industry Alarm Coalition’s (SIAC) Law Enforcement Liaison Glen Mowrey with Meritorious Service awards during its 41st annual convention.
Both Berger and Mowrey played a significant role in forming the Florida Police Chiefs Association (FPCA) alarm management committee about five years ago. A few years after Mowrey retired as deputy chief of the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department, he began working with SIAC. Having served in law enforcement, and now in the alarm industry, Mowrey wondered what could be done to pull the two groups together, he tells SSI.
Mowrey, who formerly worked with the Miami-Dade Police Department, reached out to Berger, who was then the Palm Bay (Fla.) police chief. “I suggested that the committee could have three police chiefs, three alarm industry people and I would serve as facilitator,” says Mowrey. “As past president of FPCA and the International Association of Police Chiefs [IACP], Chief Berger was on board.”
After FPCA unanimously approved the idea, the duo contacted AAF Executive Bob Neely to choose two alarm industry members to join the committee. Several years after the group was established, Berger wanted to form a public-private partnership committee, with the alarm management team serving as a subgroup. There are roughly 20 committee members today.
Prior to the committee being formed, AAF had difficulty getting ordinances approved, Neely tells SSI. “Traditionally, we’ve always gone from the bottom up,” he says. “We would go to the local city council and we would try to get an ordinance passed. We were rarely successful because management in those areas didn’t understand our industry in a contractual way. It was hard for us to educate them and let them know what we were trying to accomplish.”
Since its founding, the group was able to get a two-call verification on all burglar alarm signals ordinance turned into a law. “Generally, it takes two or three years to get a bill signed from the time of its inception,” Berger tells SSI. “We were able to do it in two sessions, which is 18 months, from the time we resurrected it to the time it was turned into law.”
Additionally, the committee conducts training seminars throughout 17 Florida regions, training police chiefs in the latest advancements with intrusion alarms, says Mowrey. With the help of AAF funds, the group designed 120,000 brochures explaining what to look for when purchasing burglar alarms, how to maintain them and reducing false alarms. “On the brochures, there is a logo from all organizations — AAF, FPCA and SIAC — that shows a real partnership in that effort,” Mowrey says.
Berger says that despite the best efforts of the committee and the alarm industry as a whole, it has been difficult to reach some police chiefs. “There are a few chiefs that say, ‘We’re not going to respond to false alarms anymore,’ despite the fact that more than 90 percent of the industry has attacked this problem,” he says. “That’s wrong. If that continues, there are going to be more thefts. With reality TV, most of our tricks are being uncovered, and with police refusing to respond to an alarm, that’s a downfall.”
Still, all three men are happy with how the law enforcement/alarm industry relationship has blossomed through the years. “I’m able to pick up a phone and call any police chief I want in the state, explain my issue and get immediate assistance,” says Neely. “The reverse is also true. This is a phenomenal working relationship where we have built mutual trust. That’s been very significant in making this group a success.”
Ashley Willis is associate editor for SECURITY SALES & INTEGRATION. She can be reached at (310) 533-2419.