Calgary Police to Require Alarm Permits in the New Year

Along with requiring alarm permits, after March 1, 2017, having more than one false alarm from a permit holder will result in increasing fines.

CALGARY, Alberta, Canada – Police here will no longer respond to residential or commercial alarms without a permit beginning Jan. 1, 2017. After March 1, 2017, having more than one false alarm from a permit holder will result in increasing fines.

The moves are an effort to streamline police response, CBC/Radio-Canada reports. Amanda Welfare, manager of Calgary police business operations, told the Canadian new broadcaster that officers responded to 16,000 alarm calls in 2015, of which 96% were false. Of those false alarms, Welfare said 70% were caused by human error.

A police spokesperson said changes made earlier this year requiring there to be at least two alarms – a window breaking and motion inside, for example – and alarm companies to contact two keyholders before calling police, dropped the number of calls by 54%.

“There were two main drivers for the project,” said Welfare. “It was to improve our resources and our response and also to change behavior of permit holders. We’re trying to improve our ability to attend legitimate calls, legitimate alarm activations, rather than attending 96% false alarms.”

The latest move is also an effort to ensure information relayed to responding officers is correct.

“Many of the permits we currently have are very out of date,” said Welfare.

Annual permits will cost $15 for homeowners and $20 for businesses.

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Brad Koltai, president and CEO of Corporate Investigations and Security, told CBC/Radio-Canada the efforts are a “great step forward” to making home and business owners more accountable for their alarm systems.

“It really focuses on community policing where we as property owners and business owners are more responsible for the alarms that we put in,” he said. “It will free up police resources to really focus on priority calls and allow their manpower to be deployed to more priority situations.”

As the province works to deal with a growing fentanyl crisis, coupled with a slowed economy, an increase in property crimes can be the result, said Koltai.

“This is a great opportunity for individuals to really get involved in having ownership of the protection of their own assets, their own homes, their own businesses and to become more involved,” he said.

Technology like security cameras are readily available, said Koltai, giving property owners a better sense of whether an alarm going off is false or a crime in progress.

“You can be your own keyholder,” he said. “You can communicate with the alarm company and if necessary, with the police service responding, just to let them know whether it is a true alarm or a false alarm.”

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