Salem, Ore., Police Proposes Verified Response


The Salem City Council says it will consider appointing a
task force in a few weeks to study the Police Department’s
proposed verified response policy. Councilmembers moved on
the issue after residents had been notified that police
want to stop responding to unverified burglar alarms.

The city council held a public hearing May 12 after the police department first floated the proposal after months researching the idea. Police want to stop responding to alarm calls unless they are triggered via a panic button or verified by an eyewitness.

Salem police say 8 percent of its calls are responses to burglar alarms. Most of the time, the alarms are false, which is a drain on the understaffed force. The department also would stop charging residents user fees, which are designed to reimburse the city for time spent investigating alarms.

Currently, police say alarms are their lowest priority.

Police Chief Walt Myers said alarm owners would get better service if the alarm companies dispatched their own security officers rather than having a taxpayer-subsidized police response. The department says patrol officers waste an estimated 15 percent of their time checking out false alarms, according to the Statesman Journal.

Residents were warned on the police department’s proposal through letters sent by alarm companies. The alarm industry argues that the proposal will cost security companies money and business.

Councilors were deluged with E-mails, calls and letters protesting the proposal. Many residents worried that crime would increase if thieves knew police wouldn’t respond to alarms.

Many residents want police response to continue. “I pay enough taxes to sponsor even half a cop for 10 minutes every six months, if need be,” a Salem resident told the city council at the public hearing, according to the newspaper.

It was a Salem resident who asked the council to refer the issue to a task force to look for a better way to cut down false alarms for the police department. “Right now we’re trying to fight crime,” he said. “Not supplement it.”

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