California Police Chief Orders Verified Response
FREMONT, Calif. — The police chief in Fremont, Calif., has ordered his officers not to respond to burglar alarms unless there is a confirmed security breach, making Fremont the first city in the nation’s most populous state to go to a full verified response policy.
Fremont Police Chief Craig Steckler says the move, to take effect on March 20, was made because of what he says were an excessive amount of false alarm responses that were burdening his police department.
“My problem is I have 188 officers sworn for a community of 211,000. It’s become a matter of prioritizing,” Steckler told SSI. “ It just ethically didn’t make sense to me that we weren’t dealing with real crime problems.”
Fremont’s new policy says police won’t respond to burglar alarms at all unless a resident, property owner or alarm company employee will be able to show evidence that a crime occurred.
Michael Salk, vice president of the East Bay Alarm Association (EBAA), says he and other alarm industry representatives met with Steckler in early 2004 where he said his staff was pushing for verified response, but he said he was willing to work with the alarm industry on a solution to the false alarm problem. However, that next meeting came on Jan. 18 when Steckler told him he was enacting verified response.
“We were thinking we were going in to discuss solutions, he just introduced to policy,” says Salk, vice president of Oakland-based alarm company Reed Brothers Security. “He kept it a secret from the industry and gave us 30 days to react, which is not negotiation in good faith.”
Steckler says in his 38 years in law enforcement, the alarm industry hasn’t done “anything significant” to reduce false alarms and he wasn’t going to wait any longer. “When are they going to step up and accept responsibility? I don’t cause false alarms,” he says. “If they don’t want to deal with it, you’re going to see more chiefs doing what I’m doing and putting our hands up.”
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