Dallas Approves Verified Response for Businesses


Dallas has become the largest city to enact a verified
response burglar alarm policy. The Dallas City Council
approved a new alarm ordinance despite staunch opposition
from the alarm industry, business leaders and other end
users. The Dallas City Council voted 8-5 with two
abstentions on Dec. 14 to approve the measure, which will
take effect on Feb. 1.

Under the new policy, police will no longer respond to
commercial burglar alarms unless the alarm company confirms
it through private security guards. Police will continue to
respond to residential burglar alarms, though residential
false alarm fines have been increased.

With a population of 1.19 million, Dallas is the largest
North American city to institute verified response,
eclipsing the cities of Winnipeg, Canada (population
650,000), Milwaukee (596,974), Las Vegas (478,000) and Salt
Lake City (181,143).

The verified response proposal drew condemnation from the
alarm industry right from the beginning when it was HREF=’t_ci_newsView.cfm?nid=2448′ TARGET=’_blank’>first
proposed in August
. The passage of the measure could be
a tough defeat for the industry, which poured a large
lobbying effort into defeating the measure on the home turf
of the National Burglar and Fire Alarm Association (NBFAA)
and the Security Industry Alarm Coalition (SIAC), which are
both based in the area.

SIAC Executive Director Stan Martin says the industry did
all it could do to try to defeat the measure, including
offering a countermeasure that pledged to reduce false
alarms through enhanced call verification (ECV). However,
he adds there was nothing that would sway some council
members, as the same eight who voted for the final
ordinance – including Dallas Mayor Laura Miller – voted
against the alarm industry’s alternative.

“This just defies logic. The industry did what we are
supposed to do in this situation,” Martin told
SSI. “When the city council decides to ignore the
citizens, there’s not much more you can do.”

Initially, the proposal included verified response for
residential alarm customers as well. That changed after a
large crowd of alarm industry leaders, business owners and
residents voiced opposition at an initial council meeting
on the new ordinance TARGET=’_blank’>on Oct. 12. City leaders then offered
what they said was a compromise measure that omitted
residential alarm users from verified response.

For residential customers, there will be three “free” false
alarms within a year in the final ordinance before fines
kick in. From there, there will be a $50 fine for the
fourth through sixth false alarms and a $75 fine for the
seventh and eighth violation. After that, a resident could
lose their alarm license and lose police response to

Like the Oct. 12 meeting, it was a packed council chamber
for the Dec. 14 vote with several Dallas business leaders
raising opposition to the measure. Among those raising
opposition before the council were security directors from
retailers Neiman-Marcus and Tom Thumb Supermarkets.

Also speaking against the measure to the council was Chris
Russell, president of the North Texas Alarm Association

As the morning was going along, Martin, who was in
attendance, felt positive that the proposal would go down
to defeat.

“We really felt the momentum shift and thought the swing
votes on council would carry us,” Martin says.

However, Dallas Police Chief David Kunkle – who initially
proposed verified response back in August – made one last
appeal to the council that SIAC Director Ron Walters says
swayed the council in the end.

Walters says many council members chose to side with Dallas
Police Chief David Kunkle rather than listen to Dallas
residents and business leaders.

“Once a police department announces they’re going to do
something like this, its tough to vote against the chief,”
Walters says.

Kunkle said at the council meeting that verified response
would be instituted in phases. A commercial alarm customer
will have verified response initiated at their address when
their alarm permit expires. The department is ending the
alarm permit process and won’t issue renewals to

NTAA’s Russell, who owns Dallas’ Amazon Alarm Systems Inc.,
says while the industry still has choices at its disposal
to still avert verified response by Feb. 1, he is resigned
to having to live with the policy, saying he is deciding
whether to hire a guard service or asking customers to pay
for the hiring of their own guard services.

“I’m not saying the alarm industry is done with this issue,
but we need to serve our customers,” Russell says. “They’re
the police department and we’re not going to not work with
them just because they did something that doesn’t make

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