Old thinking used to say that because tax dollars pay for the manpower to respond to alarms in a community, that numerous “free” responses from law enforcement was okay, or that citizens expect and deserve continued service. Up to a point that may be true, but only up to a point. There is a level when those responses by police prove to be a drag on their resources, and the security industry has to be ready with solutions that work to drive down those unwanted activations.
Our solutions must deliver tangible and long-term benefits. Otherwise we risk returning to the way things were, which often meant reduced credibility for the electronic security industry and likely hostile attitudes on both sides of the issue of alarm responsibilities.
We (SIAC) help explain the facts to local officials based on real data and experience. That’s an advantage we provide our industry as a non-profit entity set up to improve alarm management practices across North America.
Based on that experience, four or five free responses for unnecessary alarm activation is not recommended and kills the effectiveness of a proposed ordinance. We consistently recommend one or two free responses and will even support no free responses. Fewer works better to effectively bring users into compliance. Since 90% of the users will not have even one dispatch per year, we are now targeting the 2-3% users that are chronic abusers. That’s the tangible benefit.
Even if only one free dispatch response is included in the ordinance, that means 97% of alarm holders will not be fined. A good ordinance is about weeding out the bad apples, fixing the problem and maintaining a firm response to alarms.
Giving three, four or five free responses is like letting the speeding car driver have 3, 4, or 5 warning tickets before penalizing him. If we want action, the penalties need to be more stringent and enforced, otherwise the corrective action is negated.