Police Perceptions Provide Constructive Criticism

Our March and April issues featured two sides of the same coin with respect to law enforcement’s view of the alarm industry.

In an exclusive interview, the former found L.A. Police Chief William Bratton expressing his disdain for burglar alarm systems. In a nationwide study, the latter illustrated that despite false alarms and what high-profile figures like Bratton opine, police continue to place a high value on the alarm industry.

To complete the trilogy, this month I am sharing some of the comments from police around the country who participated in Security Sales & Integration’s 2006 Police Alarm Industry Survey but did not appear in the special April supplement. They provide ideas for improving the relationship between law enforcement and alarm companies.

Oxnard (Calif.) Police Commander Tom Chronister believes alarm companies need to conduct business in a more proactive and conscientious manner: “Alarm companies should work harder on service after the sale. I know of one company that pulls overnight central station records every morning. Their first order of business is to contact those accounts that experienced a false alarm and determine the situation.”

In a similar vein, Deputy Dawn Richardson of the Wasatch County (Utah) Sheriff’s Office believes alarm companies should make sure their customers’ locations are easy to find: “Alarm companies should insist alarm owners have their street numbers clearly marked on the front of their residence or business.”

Contrary to calls for central station operators to do more to verify the legitimacy of alarms, Donald James, a deputy with the Harris County (Texas) Sheriff’s Office, says such measures do more harm than good: “The alarms I have responded to that have been ‘good’ alarms with an actual burglary have had delays from the alarm company calling the police by greater than 5 minutes. Alarm companies need to stop making those decisions. They need to give priority to all alarms.”

Frank Plunkett of the Mount Laurel Township (N.J.) Police Department agrees, citing enhanced call verification (ECV) as being ill advised: “I think the phone call is a hazard to homeowners and also a warning to the burglars that the ‘cops will be on the way.’ Two calls will only delay police response and make it even less likely that we will catch the bad guys in the real crimes.”

This view flies in the face of law enforcement officials such as Douglas Wilkinson of the Wichita (Kan.) Police Department: “All available verification procedures should be used before notifying public agencies. Alarm companies should contract with private patrol and response providers to respond to all alarms before notifying police. Public agencies should never hear of any alarm unless an intrusion has been confirmed.”

Retired New York State Police Station Commander Duane Corbo recommends enlisting former law enforcement officers: “I think alarm companies that have sufficient customers in a particular area should consider hiring personnel to directly respond. They could be retired law enforcement officers, possibly from the agencies currently responding to their alarms. This would assist with the connection between alarm companies and police, and they would have prior training on officer safety and considerations for responding to alarms.”

Jeff Goerke of the Maryville (Mo.) Department of Public Safety objects to how some alarm companies are marketed: “The commercials need to be changed. I want to put a boot through my TV every time I see ‘mom and pop’ running to hide in the closet to answer the phone. A proper commercial would show a family member dialing 911 and another going for the household weapon. A telephone operator three or 30 states away is not going to save your butt when the alarm goes off!”


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About the Author


Scott Goldfine is Editor-in-Chief and Associate Publisher of Security Sales & Integration. Well-versed in the technical and business aspects of electronic security (video surveillance, access control, systems integration, intrusion detection, fire/life safety), Goldfine is nationally recognized as an industry expert and speaker. Goldfine is involved in several security events and organizations, including the Electronic Security Association (ESA), Security Industry Association (SIA), Security Industry Alarm Coalition (SIAC), False Alarm Reduction Association (FARA), ASIS Int'l and more. Goldfine also serves on several boards, including the SIA Marketing Committee, CSAA Marketing and Communications Committee, PSA Cybersecurity Advisory Council and Robolliance. He is a certified alarm technician, former cable-TV tech, audio company entrepreneur, and lifelong electronics and computers enthusiast. Goldfine joined Security Sales & Integration in 1998.

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