‘Verified’ Response Proposal in Tucson Means Lowering Priority Level

Local and national alarm industry representatives have been in continuing talks with Tucson city and police officials in an effort to prevent the city from incorporating a procedure it is calling verified response into its current alarm ordinance.

The police department reports its wants to consider dispatching alarm calls that trip or activate once to field officers. The calls would be given a low priority, and it would be up to a police officer’s discretion to respond.

Alarms that trip more than once, however, would be given a higher priority. In this case, alarm companies would first have to verify that a break-in took place before police respond to the scene.

Although it is already a common practice throughout the alarm industry to do at the least a one-call verification method, the police department wants to include language in the ordinance clearly specifying this practice.

Kerry Richardson, president of the Arizona Burglar and Fire Alarm Association (ABFAA), says the police department has stated that the amended ordinance would go into effect July 1. But officials have pushed the date to September.  According to a local news report, the changed alarm policy would be tried out for six months before being presented to Tucson’s mayor and the City Council for incorporation into the current ordinance.

Richardson says so far officials have not provided the alarm industry with a copy of the proposed ordinance change. However, she adds that Tucson Police is considering the idea of forming a task force to study the issue and discuss an ordinance based on the industry’s Model States report.

So far the alarm association and members of the Security Industry Alarm Coalition Inc. (SIAC), a national group that helps educate security companies and law enforcement on issues related to alarm management and can engage in lobbying efforts—formerly known as the Coordinated Alarm Reduction Effort (CARE)—have been alerting the community about the ordinance change. It has meet with the city’s Chamber of Commerce and recently met with a homeowners associations, which received wide media attention. “I think the police department is beginning to soften a bit,” with the ordinance change, Richardson says, “but as of this date we have to proceed cautiously.”

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