California City Cooperates With Alarm Industry to Cut False Alarms


The police department in Seal Beach, Calif., says it has drastically reduced false alarms thanks to a cooperative effort with the alarm industry. The effort by police and the Orange County Alarm Association (OCAA) focused on contacting and educating directly end users who accounted for a large percentage of the false alarms.

The result has been a nearly 80-percent reduction in false alarm dispatches without forcing alarm companies to verify alarms before dispatching police. Sharon Elder, police liaison for the OCAA, told Security Sales & Integration that by working with law enforcement, the alarm industry can avoid punitive measures against it and its customers like verified response and high false alarm fines.

“This isn’t rocket science. It just takes a little communication. They want to do a good job and work with us,” says Elder, Vice President of Sales for the Aliso Viejo, Calif.-based National Monitoring Center. “It’s a tripod of the subscriber, the alarm company and law enforcement that need to have a synergy to serve the community.”

The new approach involved Elder looking at the raw false alarm data with Seal Beach Police Capt. John Schaefer and coming up with a solution. They focused on six locations that accounted for 27-percent of all false alarm responses in the coastal city located about 30 miles south of Downtown Los Angeles. Elder personally contacted the alarm owners and alarm companies for each of those locations and offer advise and education.
“It needs to be laid out positively, not punitively. I don’t know an alarm company that doesn’t want to be responsive to their client,” says Elder, who adds user error wasn’t always the cause of the false alarms. “In one case, there was an interface error between the access control and burglary system.”
According to Schaefer, while Seal Beach had 75 false alarm dispatches in 2003, it had only six false alarms in the first six months of 2004.

Seal Beach has had a fee structure in place since 1991 for those who commit more than two false alarms in a calendar year.

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