California chiefs have had some influence from nonresponse cities that cause chiefs to seriously look at that option. However, education (when our industry is given the opportunity) overcomes the inaccurate information they are receiving from other sources.
Colorado has the second highest list of nonresponse cities, but due to on-the-ground efforts by local dealers and specialized law enforcement help, working together we are turning the tide there.
In Arizona, a mixture of issues comes into play. One city that tried to fine alarm companies caught the attention of many other cities. The situation required additional education with the use of attorneys to clarify why the action would be unlawful and strong support by the local dealers and state association. Once that happened, agreement was reached and legal action was avoided.
Additionally, there are some rogue Arizona dealers in the southern part of the state that are not cooperating with the industry or law enforcement. This is a distraction and causes the needless use of additional resources to counter their movement. One of SIAC’s ongoing efforts in working with the industry is to offer educational services, to any jurisdiction, to help explain why the Model Ordinance makes sense. In most cases this works.
Highlighting Noteworthy Victories
There have been a number of recent noteworthy victories for all parties, including the Southern California city of Chula Vista. The city had been given only partial information on how it could reduce false alarm calls — basically recommending the Salt Lake City-type of ordinance where “a person” would have to verify that a crime was in progress or had already occurred. Verification could also occur through some kind of video showing the same details.
The city had been provided an outdated report, which led it to head down the path it did. This was unfolding around the 2012 annual IACP conference in San Diego, and SIAC’s Jon Sargent had the opportunity to discuss other, better alternatives with Chula Vista law enforcement leadership. They quickly understood there was more to this discussion. With the other side of the story on the horizon, they recognized there were great successes in other jurisdiction’s alarm programs that dramatically reduced unwanted alarms and also provided fair cost recovery revenue to their city.
In San Diego, through a mutually cooperative effort with the San Diego Security Association, including feedback from San Diego Police representatives, SIAC had also been working to shift the penalty to the alarm owner as opposed to the
provider. That meant the fines went to those alarm users who just could not get it together and stop their unnecessary alarms.
Implementing an alarm ordinance with best practices mirroring what other successful cities had in place, SIAC was able to demonstrate a win for citizens and all parties concerned. With strong support from the alarm industry through the local association (and SIAC), the amended alarm ordinance went before the Chula Vista City Council and passed first reading unanimously on May 28. The alarm industry remains committed to supporting Chula Vista Police throughout set-up and implementation of its future alarm program. The alarm industry also understands we have a serious vested interest to support and help Chula Vista become 100% successful in its endeavor to turn unnecessary burglar alarms into a “nonissue.”
In Sacramento, Calif., the industry worked closely with the Chief Rick Braziel to revamp its alarm ordinance based on SIAC’s model that utilized proven best practices. In a letter from the chief, the industry was acknowledged for its cooperative efforts: “The issue and impact of false alarm reduction has never been more important, as law enforcement agencies like us adjust under reduced resources and increasing calls for services. Our agency, for example, is approximately 35% smaller in total staff than we were three years ago. Through the effective use of proven prevention strategies [such as monitored alarm systems], and continued partnership with the security industry, the Sacramento Police Department believes we can protect our community and your customers, and still preserve police response times to priority calls for service.”
Finally, in Indio, Calif., SIAC was able to work with local officials that led to a reversal of restricted response initiatives.
Changing Technology Landscape
The security alarm landscape continues to evolve and one of the top changes is the proliferation of video. As the quality of video improves and costs go down, it is becoming more and more a solution of choice for customers. Police departments are also looking at video as both a prevention and apprehension tool.
Another area of change is the Automated Secure Alarm Protocol (ASAP) to Public Safety Answering Point (PSAP) program, which is showing a lot of progress in terms of adoption and value. Simply, the protocol — developed by CSAA in cooperation with APCO — automates the process electronically from the alarm to the monitoring center to the police department (the PSAP in this case). The process is consistent, fast and reliable.
SIAC is leveraging its law enforcement relationships to further promote and utilize this technology effectively. The atmosphere is filled with a spirit of cooperation in most parts of the country. The ASAP to PSAP program is one example of technology improving reliability in alarm management programs. Because the system eliminates certain touch points where human error can occur, it helps the overall process function more effectively.
Similarly, another technology enhancement is the growing use of SIA ANSI CP-01 control panels. Through the years SIAC has touted these panels as imperative in all new installations. While adoption wasn’t as widespread as hoped initially, with growing education and industry-wide support from key leaders, the numbers are increasing significantly. SIAC fully expects this trend to continue, particularly with the entrance of new, large companies to our industry. The organization has been working with a number of the telecom and cable companies starting to dip their toes into the security industry, and reports their receptiveness to recommended best practices has been encouraging.
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