Detroit enacts enhanced call verification

SIAC, local association, municipality work together for change
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Thursday, December 9, 2010

DETROIT—Authorities here have teamed with the Security Industry Alarm Coalition and the Burglar and Fire Alarm Association of Michigan to enact an enhanced call verification policy to help reduce false alarms. The ECV policy went into effect Dec. 1 and, according to SIAC, resolves a situation that could have gone very badly for the industry.

Enhanced Call Verification goes beyond a traditional single call to the premises, in that it requires a second call to a cell phone or alternative number or use of a secondary method like audio/video in an attempt to verify that an actual dispatch of police is required.

“It started with serious thoughts of verified response,” said SIAC law enforcement liaison Glen Mowrey. “Finally, after four years we’re at our first step.”

A press release from the Detroit Police Department notes the ECV initiative should significantly reduce false alarms, which will enable the DPD to improve response time to actual crimes and other emergencies.

“This is great news. One of the City Council members was requesting a verified response policy via a live witness,” said ACT NOW ALARM president Dean Belisle, who also is president of BFAAM president. “The Detroit police told us they definitely wanted a full ordinance, but they knew it would be a year or so until they could make it happen. So we told them about ECV and they loved it right away.”

Municipal authorities feel the teamwork exhibited in Detroit could be a lesson to neighboring municipalities.

“We’re the largest police department in the state. For anyone sitting on the sidelines looking on, if it works in Detroit it will definitely work in other municipalities as well,” said DPD Cmdr. Todd Bettison. “ECV is best practice. It’s tested and proven to reduce the amount of residential and business false alarms. When the industry and law enforcement work together, then the amount of false dispatches is reduced.”

Belisle agreed the hope was to bring success in Detroit to the rest of Michigan.

“This is just a first step. The goal is to give them a 25 percent reduction in false alarm calls in Detroit. The next step is to target alarm abusers—habitual false alarm offenders, and the third step is to put a full ordinance in place. Once it works in Detroit, we’d like to bring it to the state level.”

SIAC executive director Stan Martin said the big victory here was that even in a large city like Detroit, cooperation between private industry and public authorities led to a mutually beneficial outcome.

“Verified response is non response. Police require eyewitness confirmation of criminal activity before they will respond,” Martin said. “This was a huge victory for all parties. Police get significant reductions, while dealers and consumers continue to get sworn officer response to alarms versus VR and having to hire private guards or respond themselves.”