Follow-up report by Security Sales shows dealers, police and end users are generally pleased with co

A policy implemented in 1990 and amended in 1991-92 decrees the police will no longer respond to alarm signals that aren’t physically verified. While early predictions suggested consumers would cease to buy security systems and even that criminals would be running rampant through the streets, none of this has come to be. In fact, security is a growing industry in Las Vegas.

While the industry has learned to adjust to this new policy, not everyone is thrilled with it. There are complaints of increased costs and consumer complaints, but the city’s average monthly monitoring fees are also higher and – due to the low priority of alarm signals with the police – consumers usually have someone at their house faster.

What Does the LVMPD Policy Cover?

The current policy of the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department (LVMPD) regarding alarm signals is as follows:

It is the policy of this department NOT to respond to non-verified commercial or residential burglar alarms received from alarm companies, except under the conditions outlined below.


Confirmed Alarm: A burglar alarm where the alarm company’s guard, the owner or a responsible party has arrived at the scene and confirmed that a point of entry exists.

Non-Verified Alarm: A burglar alarm that has not been verified as an actual burglary by an alarm company guard, the owner or a responsible party.

Panic Alarm: An alarm specifically designed to be activated by a person to indicate an immediate life-threatening danger is occurring.


Confirmed Alarm: Upon notification of a confirmed burglar alarm or panic alarm, an event will be created and a unit dispatched in accordance with normal operating procedures.

Non-Verified Alarm: Upon notification by an alarm company of an activated commercial or residential burglar alarm, the Communications Bureau will create a priority three event for broadcast. The event will be cancelled with an “R” disposition and no further action taken, as long as no units indicate that they are responding.

If a unit indicates that they will be responding to conduct a perimeter check, the dispatcher will “reopen” the event and assign the unit accordingly. The responding unit will then be responsible for updating the event with any pertinent details and closing the event with the appropriate disposition.

Exception: If the location of the alarm is a firearms dealer (including pawn shops), or there is a reported entry point at any other location, an event will be created and a unit dispatched in accordance with normal operating procedures.

Upon notification of a burglar alarm or panic alarm from a citizen, an event will be created and a unit dispatched.

Helping to Ease Bureaucracy

While many in the industry are working hard to limit the false alarm problem, it does still exist. Prior to instituting this current policy, the LVMPD’s Deputy Chief Richard McKee conducted a study in 1989 that covered a number of years and showed the false alarm rate to be 98 percent. Captain Mike Ault, commander of the communications bureau of the LVMPD adds, “I recently checked the number of false alarms for the month of September 1998. During that month, we had 3,760 alarm notifications. We responded to 673 of those. Of the calls we responded to, only three had any official police action taken such as a report, arrest, etc. That means less than one-tenth of 1 percent were worthwhile calls.

Private Response Is Required

Protection One is one company that uses its own guards. “We purchased Eagle Sentry, a private response and security company, in 1996. Prior to that, we were using third-party response to service our 21,000 customers. We now respond to about 24,000 alarms per year – and between 98 percent and 99 percent of those calls are false alarms,” admits Doug Wankel, vice president of patrol services for Protection One.

The services the guards perform vary with each contract. Sandy Mann is director of central station operations for Total Safety Inc. (TSI), a new company in the area. Previously, he worked for one of the large mass-marketed dealers in the area.

“The company I used to work for hired unarmed guards who didn’t go inside the residence after a break-in. TSI will have trained, armed people. Depending on the person’s contract, the guards either will or won’t enter the home.”

Using private response does add to a company’s operating expense. Mann says, “My previous company used three runners to four runners per shift. That translates to a cost of about $250,000 per year.”

Wankel adds, “There are companies that are against this policy. They use third-party responders and that probably eats into their profit margin. Since we are a large, full-service provider – we sell, install, respond, repair, etc. – this has actually been good for our business. It helps set us apart. But, most everybody understands why the policy was implemented. Everyone understands that traditional police response can’t go on unless the industry can really address the false alarm situation.” Englander is a freelance writer based in Redondo Beach, Calif.

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