Cash-Strapped SIAC Aims to Broaden Fight Against False Alarms
[IMAGE]11939[/IMAGE]FRISCO, Texas — The Security Industry Alarm Coalition (SIAC) enters 2011 with an ambitious agenda to broaden its dual mission to stave off nonresponse alarm ordinances and foster relationships with law enforcement agencies across North America.
Funded solely by donations from a limited number of installing security contractors and suppliers, SIAC will aim to establish up to six state alarm committees this year in addition to the 12 such working groups it currently maintains.
Creating the alarm committees involves repeated face-to-face conferencing with individual state police chief organizations to facilitate adoption of SIAC’s national model alarm ordinance, which details best practices to reduce false dispatches. Once a chief’s organization agrees to form a permanent committee, three dealers from the state’s alarm association are then assigned to the group.
“Together they work to customize the national model ordinance on a state level that chiefs can then promote to their peers in other jurisdictions,” says SIAC Executive Director Stan Martin. “We consider that a long-term solution to ensuring good communications between the industry and law enforcement.”
By its own estimation, SIAC’s outreach efforts during the past six years have resulted in the organization positively influencing alarm ordinances to varying degrees in 48 states.
“We believe roughly 80 percent of new ordinances being passed are touched by us. Occasionally one does get by that we didn’t know about, but we believe we’re influencing or having some input in eight out of 10 ordinances in the country,” Martin says.
Even though thinly staffed, SIAC’s liaison efforts have been instrumental in helping municipalities of all sizes significantly reduce false alarms while curtailing or altogether thwarting onerous nonresponse policies. For instance, after adopting enhanced call verification (ECV) and other best practices from SIAC’s model ordinance in 2004, Olympia, Wash., has achieved up to a 90-percent reduction in false alarms.
“SIAC has already won the false alarm battle. They have the solutions,” says Keith Jentoft, president of RSI Video Technologies, who actively meets with law enforcement agencies across the United States promoting priority response to enhanced video alarms.
SIAC is credited for persuading even the staunchest officials among police and governmental agencies who were proponents of severely restricting response to intrusion alarms. Such was the case in Sparks, Nev., where the current police chief, Steve Keefer, strongly urged city officials to adopt a non-response ordinance in 2006.
“No doubt about it, the relations between the alarm industry and the police department were adversarial,” he says. “SIAC came in and did a very good job of creating a ruckus with the city council and the news media. In hindsight, however, it ended very well. With [ECV] and other measures we were able to cut false alarms to an acceptable level.”
SIAC will have to contend with ongoing severe budget limitations if it is to succeed in its plans to expand law enforcement liaison efforts, plus tackle other goals such as response issues surrounding false fire alarms.
The organization operates on a “shoestring budget of about $800,000” per year and needs to hire a couple more staffers to further engage the law enforcement ranks across the nation, Martin says. “Our budget really should be double what it currently is. We are at capacity right now.”
Major contributors to SIAC include ADT, Honeywell, Security Industry Association (SIA) and a host of others, which are listed on its Web site. But these contributors represent only a fraction of companies in the industry that benefit from SIAC’s work.
During the recent California Alarm Association (CAA) Winter Convention, CAA President Matt Westphal explained as much during the event’s general assembly. After calling Martin to the stage to present a $30,000 donation from CAA, Westphal made it clear to the gathering of a few hundred alarm dealers why SIAC deserved their financial support.
“Contributing to SIAC is like paying yourself. They’ll expertly fight the ordinances and unfair regulations for the industry and let you concentrate on running your business,” he said.
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