False Alarm Update: Eugene, Fremont, Los Angeles, Lombard

EUGENE, Ore.

The city of Eugene, Ore., has completed a 12-month review
of its verified response alarm policy that shows a
92-percent drop in police dispatches to burglar alarms and
a 1.3-percent decrease in false alarms since the policy was
initiated. The report also shows a 10-percent increase in
the number of reported burglaries, though the city – which
says the report illustrates “why verified response has
become a proven law enforcement strategy” – says the report
shows alarm industry fears burglaries would rise “appears
not to have occurred.”

The results of the report were detailed in a memo from
Eugene Police operations support captain Steve Swenson to
Eugene City Manager Dennis Taylor. The report compared
statistics between November 15, 2002 – when verified
response was implemented – and Nov. 14 vs. statistics from
the same time periods in the two previous years.

The report says alarms resulting in false dispatches were
97 percent last year compared with 98.3 percent in 2002 and
98.5 percent in 2001. The number of police dispatches to
alarm went down dramatically – from 5,287 in the 2002 time
period to 396 in 2003.

Another dramatic drop was in police response times to
alarms, which went from 4.96 minutes in 2002 to 3.45
minutes in 2003. At the same time, the total numbers of
reported burglaries is up in Eugene – from 1,239 in 2002 to
1,379 in 2003.

Under Eugene’s verified response policy, police officers
are dispatched to intrusion alarm calls only upon
eyewitness verification that a crime appears to be taking
place.

The Alarm Industry Research and Educational Foundation
(AIREF) is in talks to sponsor what would be the first
alarm industry-sponsored study of verified response results
that would be conducted by the Police Executive Research
Forum (PERF).

In other false alarm news:

FREMONT, Calif.: Citing a high number of false
alarms and budget cuts, the police department in Fremont,
Calif., is limiting the hours it responds to commercial
burglar alarms. A commercial alarm going off between 7 a.m.
and 6 p.m. will not get a police response for the time
being.

Fremont Police Det. Bill Veteran told The Argus his
department found in a six-month study that nine out of
every 2,600 commercial alarms required a police response.
Veteran adds there will not be a change in response to
residential alarms or commercial robbery alarms that are
manually activated.

Despite that, some Fremont business owners have criticized
the new policy. “That’s sort of their job, to respond to
problems. For them not to respond is ridiculous,” Scott
Knupfer, general manager of a Play It Again Sports store,
told The Argus.

LOS ANGELES: A proposal for a revised alarm
ordinance that would charge alarm customers $115 for a
first false alarm remains under review by three Los Angeles
City Council committees and it is still not clear when it
would reach the full council.

The proposal was
approved April 12 by the
council’s public safety
committee
and remains under review by three other
committees: Education and Neighborhoods, Information and
Technology, and Budget and Finance.

The new ordinance would leave in place a policy that went
into effect Jan. 1 where Los Angeles police no longer
respond to alarms at addresses with more than two false
alarms unless someone at the location has verified them. It
would add a $115 fee for a first false alarm and an
additional $50 added on to that for each additional false
dispatch.

LOMBARD, Ill.: The Metropolitan Chicago village of
Lombard has voted to increase its fines for false alarms by
as much as four times the previous fee.
The village’s
board voted unanimously April 15 to increase the fee to
$100 for a fourth false alarm within a year and $200 for
the ninth false alarm and beyond, according to the Daily
Herald
.

Lombard doesn’t assess fines for the first three false
alarms.

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