Calgary Bylaw Adds Controversial Wrinkle to Police Responding to Alarm Calls

Calgary Police Service is using a more cautious alarm vetting process to cut down on false alarms rather than fines.

Police departments across the United States have tried to come up with a remedy to cut down on false alarm police dispatches. Most are using a graduated system of fines to address the problem.

Up north in Calgary, police are using a different tactic. Starting May 15, Calgary police will no longer dispatch to an alarm call where only one zone is activated. Alarm agencies will also be required to contact two key holders of the property before contacting police, according to Metro Calgary.

Some are not in favor of the bylaw.

“We’re hearing more and more about home invasions when people are home,” says Mike Lowes, an in-home alarm user. “Most alarm systems, especially when you’re home, will only show one trigger point. So, if that person is grabbed on to or hurt, they won’t be able to answer their phone or call 911 and now everyone knows that no one is coming.”

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That would be a frightening reality. But Calgary Police Service (CPS) says the law is in response to alarm calls which 96% of the time are false.

Elisha Larkam with AE Security tells 660 news this poses a lot of problems.

“To start, a lot of alarm systems, not necessarily ones we’ve put in, but the cookie cutter standard that you see out on the street is door contacts and motion detectors. So, there is a very good chance that you would only trigger one device if someone were to break in,” she says.

Meanwhile, others are fine with the law because their alarm companies send a guard to their house any time an alarm goes off.

CPS adds that any calls for service involving “panic, hold-up or duress alarms” or verified valid alarm activations will be attended by police.

What do you think of the bylaw?

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