This is the third and final installment from SIAC’s Ron Walters on how public buildings are affected by alarm ordinance provisions.
Exempting public buildings from the provisions of an alarm ordinance is not uncommon; but neither are ordinances that do not exempt them. The city has no obligation to exempt buildings occupied by the US Government, State Agencies, County Buildings or even City-occupied buildings. In particular, there is no obligation to exempt schools that are the worst of the worst. In fact many school districts now have their own police forces, and yet in many instances these dedicated law enforcement agencies aren’t tasked to provide their own response, at least until they are asked to do it. And yes, there have been instances where it was as simple as asking.
Like many things in government, it comes down to the will of the elected officials to take a stand for what is right and fair. When these exemptions are in place there is no motivation to correct the behavior. It is simply not fair to hold the citizens and taxpayers to a higher standard than their government.
Finally, if public buildings are exempted from the provisions of any alarm ordinance, then it is only fair that when evaluating the effectiveness of the program, all statistics associated with the exempted buildings should not be factored into the results.
If in the end you are left with these occupancies being exempted then you should follow some minimum procedures and requirements detailed below.
• The alarm must be registered even if there is no fee to be charged. The registration must include the primary person responsible for the alarm system and off hour contact numbers so they can be contacted on each dispatch.
• Make certain that you also have contact numbers for the entity responsible for servicing and monitoring the system. They should also be contacted on every dispatch at the time of the incident.
• When an address proves to be a problem system (more than three responses in a year) we recommend that you either speak to the responsible person, or better yet visit them. It would also be very helpful if a chief or assistant chief write a letter to the department head suggesting that service and or training be undertaken.
• We can’t stress enough the value of minimizing the number of people that have access to any building that has an alarm system. Restricting access includes minimizing the number of keys to the building. These are things to cover with the alarm company provider and have them do the heavy lifting as far as communication with the alarm customer.
• These solutions will provide some level of control over sites that are abusing public response.
Visit our Web site – http://www.siacinc.org – for more information regarding alarm management issues.