Time Wasters vs. Time Savers

We’re all for saving time. Though the goal of the model ordinance is not specifically to save time, it is one of its benefits. Police departments are looking to save time, which leads to better resource allocation, and ultimately improved public protection.

Detroit, Michigan, has had financial problems for some time. This means the Detroit Police Department (PD) is hard pressed to do what it used to be able to do.

Admirably, the PD is exploring multiple options to shave time from various tasks. They are moving forward with a number of efficiency moves, including going to verified response for alarm systems, requiring verification before they will send an officer. While we agree with many of their steps, we diverge on this issue. We believe continued response by sworn officers is the best route to follow, and time can be saved by officers by strong implementation and enforcement of the model ordinance.
A point often lost is the fact that 80-90% of these systems are not the problem. Consistently across this country we see 10-20% of the users causing the vast majority of the alarm dispatches and those are folks that should be and are the focus of our alarm management program. Stopping response and denying this core service to everyone solves nothing.

We understand the economic realities faced by the Detroit PD and other departments across the country. It’s why we continue recommending to cities large and small across the United States that applying the model ordinance will reduce calls for police dispatch to alarms. It is not a perfect system, nor will it reduce those calls by 100%. But with strong implementation of the major provisions, we’ve easily seen short-term reductions of 60% in the first year with 80% or more in years that follow.

We also believe that officers responding to alarm calls helps community policing. Being out and about is good policing. It lets the bad guys know there’s a presence in the neighborhood. In the long run, that’s a time saver, too, because police presence prevents future crimes.


Executive Director of SIAC
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