L.A. City Council Rejects Motion to Veto New Alarm Policy
On Feb. 4 the Los Angeles City Council dropped the threat to veto the city’s new policy on burglar alarm response. The new policy mandates police to only respond to alarms once they are verified by someone or via video that a break-in has actually occurred. The move came after opponents failed to muster enough votes to overturn the Police Commission.
The city council voted 8 to 4 to shelve the veto motion on the last day it could be acted upon. The council also asked the Los Angeles Police Commission, which unanimously approved the new policy in January, to consider extending the rule to council offices and other government buildings. The city council has been criticized for being exempt from the policy.
The city council dropped the veto after Police Commission President Rick Caruso assured council members in writing that his panel would delay implementing the policy for 60 days and would consider recommendations made by a new task force.
Under the rule change, a break-in must be verified by the property owner or a security company representative before police will respond to an alarm. A verified alarm will be given high priority, meaning officers will arrive in 10 minutes or less. Because of the large number of false alarms, they are not a priority, and officers often take 45 minutes or more to respond.
Chief William J. Bratton and the commission said the Police Department needs to alter its approach to alarms because 92% last year were false.
Councilwoman Janice Hahn, who voted against shelving the veto, said she felt the policy would not provide the police protection alarm owners deserve.
“While many of you may trust [the commission] more than I do, what I will pledge to do is we will hold this Police Commission accountable,” Hahn said, according to the Los Angeles Times. “And when 60 days is up, if they have ignored the task force recommendations, we will have a serious problem with that.”
Although the city council would not have any legal recourse to overturn the policy, Councilman Tom LaBonge noted that the police commission will have a chance to act on any recommended changes by April 15, a week before the city council takes up the LAPD budget.
Councilman Nate Holden—who voted with Hahn and two other councilmembers against shelving the veto—said the council was giving in to an appointed commission that disregarded the council’s concerns.
Hahn said commission representatives did not return her calls or provide information on more than 40 false alarms at her own council field offices.
“We cannot have this kind of arrogance from a citizen commission,” she said.
Speaking at a news conference immediately after the decision, Caruso said the commission “would certainly consider any … changes” suggested by a task force, which will be convened to study the issue. But he defended the commission’s earlier decision.
“I don’t think arrogance should be confused with independence,” he said. “We are standing firm in this position because we think it is right.”
The alarm industry is not ruling out going to court to block the policy change, but plans to give the task force a chance to work, said industry lobbyist Howard Sunkin. “We look forward to having a good dialogue with the task force during the next 60 days,” he said, according to the article.
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