The Most Successful Model in the U.S.

Regardless of what you do, the industry you work in, or what the competition is, at some point you see sterling examples of success. It could be the company with the best sales record year after year. It may be the leader who demonstrates the importance of his industry to customers. There is that little something that “stands out.”

As we work across the country to continue improving alarm management practices, the city of Olympia, WA, is our shining light. Since they implemented SIAC –endorsed best practices, they’ve shown stratospheric reductions in the number of calls for police dispatch to alarms. Once these numbers went down, they’ve stayed there consistently. This is a testament to the police department of Olympia and the alarm companies in the area who worked so hard to put in place a highly effective model, then live the by the rules.

It’s hard to argue with sustained progressive results. An 89% reduction in false dispatches since the program was implemented in 2005, and a 95% collection rate is a tremendous testament to all involved!!!! We believe it is THE most successful application and enforcement of our Best Practices in this nation. It’s a commendable record of sustained results.

What makes Olympia stand out? How can other communities follow their lead? There are several factors we believe are critical. Though every city pursuing an alarm ordinance should decide what works best locally, here’s what we see standing out in Olympia: 1) Fining on the first false dispatch; 2) terminating response after too many calls for dispatch that turn out to be unnecessary; 3) committed engagement by the police department, including enforcement; 4) third party administration that is effectively disseminating information and properly applying the program’s requirements, and 5) alarm companies working to do things the right way, and working “with” the police department towards solutions.

If you look at this list, it’s a short one. Success can be easily defined. If we all take a lesson from Olympia, it’s that committed people can make a difference for the benefit of many. What this means is the citizens of Olympia benefit from greater public safety, and improved distribution of police resources. It’s a model we all can be proud of.


Executive Director of SIAC
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3 Responses to The Most Successful Model in the U.S.

  1. Jordon Brown says:

    Does every speeder get a ticket EVERY time they are pulled over? Does EVERY request for assistance (domestic violence, disturbing the peace, etc.) from law enforcement get a fine? Why should every false dispatch get fined? And what is their definition of a false dispatch? Also, why is third party administration mentioned? Can a city/county administered program NOT be successful?

    It seems to me that three things are needed to reduce false alarms: 1) a committed alarm company, 2) a caring customer, and 3) a practicle municipality. If any one of these three are missing, the false alarm ordinance WILL fail.

    • SIAC INC says:

      All alarm ordinances are subject to local politics and I would agree most citizens would like at least one response without charge for their tax dollars. SIAC officially recommends two as the maximum. The definition of a false alarm is well-defined in our model ordinance and is generally accepted by everyone – without going through it all in detail it does include accepting cancellations: not a false alarm if the dispatch call is cancelled before the officer arrives at the alarm location; and also does not count alarms due to excessive weather conditions, acts of God, etc.

      Regarding third party administration… We do not believe having them on board is essential for success if the agency is serious about enforcing their ordinance and they have the capability of doing a good job of handling the administration. Many times the police department gets stuck with the task or it gets passed on to someone in the city where it may not be considered a high priority. We know from experience that cities that outsource the alarm administration to a third party have extremely high collection rates and the best enforcement of the alarm ordinance which results in better cash flow and alarm dispatch reductions.

      Overall I would conclude that most agencies we deal with across this nation are very pleased with 60-65% reductions in alarm dispatches, where 2-3 free response are still in place. However, there are a growing number of agencies that are laying off officers due to budget constraints and have an urgent need to lower dispatches even more. If faced with a choice of losing police response to alarms or being aggressive with the alarm ordnance to get to that 80-90% level of reduction, we believe the choice is obvious…

  2. Ron says:

    You miss the point if you fail to recognize the significance between 259 police responses per month (on average before the ordinance) vs 24 in 2011. Eliminating 90% of the unnecessary police responses is not only significant for the police, but for the citizens as well. Just think, for example, how many citizens would be subject to a false alarm fine when there were 250 false alarms per month (and they gave a free response) instead of in the 20’s as it is today? And the fine is pretty reasonable at $60.

    Those numbers also don’t take into consideration the growth in the number of alarm systems since 2001 when the city was responding to 259 per month. Had the new ordinance not been adopted and they had 1 1/2 times the number of systems, how many alarms would the police be responding to? 400 per month?

    Unfortunately the formula of a committed alarm company, a caring customer, and a practical municipality too often fails on one or more of the elements. That’s why a strong ordinance containing the Best Practices has been the only formula that has consistently produced results across the country.

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