False Alarm Update: Dallas Dealers Ask for Delay to Verified Response


City officials in Dallas are considering a delay in the implementation of a verified response policy after a local alarm association sent a letter to Dallas’ police chief urging a delay. Meanwhile, Dallas’ city attorney is looking into charges that city officials who were the architects of the policy took kickbacks from security guard companies, which stand to gain from the new policy.

Under the new alarm ordinance, passed by the Dallas City Council on Dec. 14, officers will no longer respond to commercial burglar alarms unless they are verified by a private security guard hired by the alarm company. Police response will continue for residential customers, though they will see increased false alarm fines and could have their permits revoked after eight false alarms in a year.

The start of a slow roll-out of the new policy was set to begin on Feb. 1, where commercial customers will be under the new policy after their permit renewal date. Industry leaders, led by North Texas Alarm Association (NTAA) President Chris Russell, are asking for a delay to June 1 for the start of the phased roll-out.

In the letter to Police Chief David Kunkle, Russell says more time is needed to either prepare for the verified response plan in place, or work on options for an “alternative response plan.”

“The Dallas City Council based its support of verified response, in part, on the belief that private security guards are available throughout the city to respond to alarms in a timely manner,” says Russell in the letter. “I hope you would agree that fairness and equal protection for our citizens requires that guard services be available throughout the entire community and that these services are organized to be able to respond to alarms in a timely manner before police response is curtailed. This is not the current situation.”

A task force set up by the NTAA has found that only one security guard company is currently capable of responding to alarms south of Interstate 30 and most of the guard companies reached by alarm companies said they wouldn’t be ready to respond to alarms by Feb. 1.

CBS 11 in Dallas says that in response to the letter, the Dallas city attorney’s office is looking into how it could delay the implementation of the program.

The television station also reports that the city attorney is also looking into whether members of the city’s Commission on Productivity and Innovation, which first recommended the city start the verified response program, may have taken illegal donations from security guard companies. CBS 11 reports city documents show two security guard companies provided $15,000 to the commission to lobby itself and the public for the new policy.

Commission Chairman Larry Davis defended taking the donations, saying it was a small amount compared to the amount of money raised by the alarm industry to oppose the program. “I never really thought it was a conflict of interest,” Davis told CBS 11. “It was never the intent for us to do anything that would give the wrong impression.”

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