False Alarm Update: Winnipeg Delays Verified Response

WINNIPEG, Manitoba, Canada

Police in the Canadian city of Winnipeg have delayed the start of a verified response policy that was to have gone into effect March 1. Winnipeg police say the delay, until May 3, was made because the alarm industry has been “overwhelmed” by preparations for the new policy, where police would only respond to alarms that have been verified by the alarm company.

Until May 3, police will continue to respond to all residential and commercial burglar alarms in Winnipeg. “Unfortunately, they didn’t realize just how big an undertaking this would be,” Winnipeg police spokeswoman Shelly Glover told the Winnipeg Sun of the alarm industry.

Winnipeg police announced the new policy in December in response to what they say were an excessive amount of false alarms. After May 3, police will respond only if the alarm company verifies the alarm status or two alarm activations have come from the site.

In other false alarm news:

YAKIMA, Wash.: The city council in Yakima, Wash. will take up on March 2 a police proposal to enact verified response policy.

According to television station KAPP, Yakima Police want alarm companies to confirm a burglar alarm before police respond. The Yakima Council must approve changes in police policy.

KANSAS CITY, Kan.: The city attorney’s office in Kansas City, Kan., is beginning to prosecute homeowners who don’t pay fines for excessive false alarms.

Five homeowners appeared in court in late February for ignoring the fines placed on homes and businesses with more than three false alarms in a year. Three of those homeowners have been convicted, including one who had racked up nine false alarm responses.

Julie Bahr-Kostelac, Kansas City Police’s alarm coordinator, told the Kansas City Star that prosecutors plan to go after as many as 20 residences in March. “False alarms were out of control, so the chief said we needed to rededicate ourselves to this,” Bahr-Kostelac told the Star. “It’s a drain on resources.”

The city’s alarm ordinance limits residential and commercial users to three false alarms annually. Users of radio or automatic systems, which are typically used in banks, are granted six false alarms. The minimum fine is $50 for residential users and $100 for commercial and radio alarm owners, and increases with additional false alarms.

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