SAN ANTONIO, Texas — More than 100 members of the alarm, law enforcement and insurance industries attended a Partnership for Priority Video Alarm Response (PPVAR) seminar here to learn how to build public-private sector alliances through the use of video alarms and priority response.
Organized by J.D. Benfer, president of wholesale monitoring provider Response Center, the program promoted the use of video alarms to make arrests. Benfer, who served on the San Antonio Police Department (SAPD) for 20 years, says he has seen firsthand how the partnership between law enforcement and the alarm industry has deteriorated. Because of this, he wanted to host the seminar to revive law enforcement’s enthusiasm for responding to alarms.
“Officers form their own opinions about the reputation of alarm companies in their areas,” he tells SSI. “They also know which alarms have the likelihood of an apprehension of a criminal. In my day, officers fought over responding to audio listen-in alarms because there was a distinct possibility of making arrests, and they knew of the locations more prone to break-ins. With the sheer proliferation of alarms today, that likelihood has dwindled to an unrecognizable trickle.”
In addition to building partnerships, the training also focused on the benefits of video alarms from the insurance industry perspective. During the session, the National Insurance Crime Bureau’s (NICB) Michael Gallagher explained that priority response is an effective way to reduce property crime, make arrests and reduce the amount of insurance claims. NICB, a PPVAR member, works closely with law enforcement agencies across the nation. Among its efforts, NCIB provides “bait cars” to help capture criminals, plus cameras and GPS trackers at no cost to local police departments. The group also trains more than 20,000 officers on risk assessments, investigation techniques and best practices per year.
Gallagher shared statistics from the National Sheriff’s Association that indicate video alarms have delivered arrest rates of more than 20%, plus statistics by the Chartered Property Casualty Underwriters Association that show one arrest eliminates 30 additional burglaries.
PPVAR Executive Director Keith Jentoft, who is president of RSI Video Technologies, also took part in the program, describing how PPVAR aims to put central stations at the center of public safety, using video to verify actual crimes.
“The driving issue is not false alarm rates but the drive for arrests,” Jentoft tells SSI. “With declining budgets impacting resources to law enforcement, it is ideal for the alarm industry and police to use video alarms to make arrests together.”
Attendees also listened to presentations from representatives of Check Video, RSI Videofied and Tyco. Throughout the demonstrations, the manufacturers stressed that video alarms are not self-surveillance tools.
“Self-surveillance allows the property owner to see if their kids are home, if their pets are OK or if their employees are working,” Jentoft says. “The goal of video alarms is to verify a crime in progress. There are now video alarm upgrade kits that piggyback on a Honeywell or Interlogix panel. These are real video alarms that send video clips to a central station for review and dispatch.”
Benfer has already received positive feedback from San Antonio police officers who attended the event. Because of this, Benfer believes all police officers nationwide will want to implement priority response.
“I am confident that police departments everywhere will not only embrace video verification, but also endorse it,” Benfer says. “If the industry does not embrace the concept, they will do so at their own peril. Verified video alarms are like having someone go to the scene and see if anyone is breaking in prior to the officer being dispatched. A wonderful bi-product is that if no evidence of criminal activity is found, the officer is not even bothered. Properly presented, it is a much easier sell to law enforcement and insurance than it is to alarm dealers.”
PPVAR plans to schedule additional seminars throughout the United States in the coming months.
Ashley Willis is associate editor for SECURITY SALES & INTEGRATION magazine. She can be reached at (310) 533-2419.