Memphis Adopts Verified Response Policy for Commercial False Alarm Offenders

Police will add businesses to a “verified response” list after six false alarms, after which in-person or video verification will be required for dispatch.

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Repeat false-alarm commercial offenders will be required to verify emergencies before police will respond after a Memphis City Council committee voted Tuesday to adopt the new dispatch rule.

The city will add businesses to a “verified response” list after six false alarms, Chief Operations Officer Doug McGowen told The Commercial Appeal. He said the city will initially add 34 undisclosed companies to the list, all of which had more than 15 false alarms since July.

Once on the list, companies will need to verify emergencies via video or in-person before the Memphis Police Department will dispatch officers, McGowen said.

The policy is in response to the more than 150,000 false alarms reported per year in Memphis, McGowen said. The alarms are unnecessarily tying up officers as the city struggles to reverse an officer shortage.

“Our goal is not necessarily to punish anyone; it’s to protect the precious resources we have,” McGowen said.

Asked for the list, McGowen said it wouldn’t be made available for public safety reasons. In a follow-up request to the mayor’s office, a city spokeswoman provided the newspaper the following statement:

“This list is maintained by the Memphis Police Department. Pursuant to TCA 10-7-503(e) which states that ‘All contingency plans of law enforcement agencies prepared to respond to any violent incident, bomb threat, ongoing act of violence at a school or business, ongoing act of violence at a place of public gathering, threat involving a weapon of mass destruction, or terrorist incident shall not be open for inspection as provided in subsection (a).’ The way Police expect to respond to alarms at a business can be construed as an act of violence. Act of violence is not defined and a robbery/burglary can be considered a violent crime.”

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