Demands to Defund the Police Are a Call to Action for Alarm Industry

Industry veteran Tony Smith explains why the alarm industry would be wise to strengthen its existing police relationships in the wake of national protests.

In the time since George Floyd died in Minneapolis police custody on May 25 many Americans have galvanized around a collective call to “defund the police,” among other law enforcement reform ideas to lessen excessive force and racial bias.

The national movement reflects a serious breach of trust and confidence between a substantial portion of our population and our law enforcement partners. It is an immediate result of the recent vicious and troublesome police killings of unarmed suspects that include the shooting death in March of Breonna Taylor by police during a raid at her home in Louisville.

We, in the alarm industry, are generally very supportive and try to avoid saying anything negative about the police. We make every effort to uphold our role as their partner in law enforcement. There is often a mitigating side to stories of police brutality, but in the killings of Floyd and Taylor the police actions were clearly outrageous and should be quickly prosecuted.

The continuing story has been that these police actions only reflect 1% of law enforcement nationally — the “bad apple” metaphor. Now it has come to the point where that 1%, or whatever the percentage really is, requires correction or the barrel will quickly rot.

Our business is at risk. If police departments around the nation lose significant funding then crime can be expected to increase, response times will increase and the value of our police partnership will decline. The recent rioting and vandalism is not a solution to anything.

The Los Angeles Police Department Protective League (LAPPL) said it best in a recent full-page advertisement that ran in major newspapers in California: “We have an obligation as a profession and as human beings to express our sorrow by taking action.”

The LAPPL suggests beginning with:

  • A national use of force standard that emphasizes a reverence for life, de-escalation, a duty to intercede, proportional responses to dangerous incidents, and strong accountability provisions mirrored after the Los Angeles Police Department.
  • A national data-base of former police officers fired for gross misconduct that prevents other agencies from hiring them.
  • An early warning system to identify officers that may need more training and mentoring modeled after the San Francisco Police Department.
  • Ongoing and frequent training of police officers to build and refresh their skills to improve police and community outcomes similar to California’s SB-230, which requires law enforcement agencies to maintain use-of-force policies no later than Jan. 1, 2021.
  • Mandate a transparent publicly accessible use-of-force analysis website similar to the San Jose Police Department’s.

New police standards, more training and greater transparency are the key. Yes, racial diversity education needs continual emphasis, but the good news is that our police departments are now about 40% minority on a national basis. Our focus now must be on communities where the police minority percentage is much lower, and where community policing has been lacking. A minority community will come to respect and obey an officer who is a minority much more easily than a white one, until they no longer see a color difference.

At that point all the police officers, without racial regard, can become accepted members of the community. Perhaps it is time to review and strengthen our existing police relationships!

Here in California we have a superb scholarship program which is well funded and reaches out to every station house in the state. Some of our local chapters have award ceremonies for local fire and police officials. But, do we get to know them?

Most importantly, do we get to know the sergeants and other line officers who respond to our alarms? When you install a new commercial customer, do you ask the local patrol officers to stop by and see what has been installed and how it works to minimize false alarms? A smart security salesman will get referrals from making that mutual introduction, and that budding relationship with the police department will help build credibility and cooperation.

A chapter recognition lunch or dinner invitation will help to enhance the relationship, but the goal is for the community to get to know its local patrol officers. The term for this is called networking — the secret to success in almost any business!


Tony Smith is President/Founder of Security Funding Associates, past President of the California Alarm Association and past member of the NBFAA (ESA) Board of Directors. He is a licensed California alarm dealer and current member of TMA. He can be reached at (626) 797-9199 or tsmith@securityfundingsolutions.com.

A version of this article originally appeared in CAA’s “The Mirror” publication.

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