PPVAR goal: video verification standards ready by June 2014

Law enforcement teams works with alarm industry to ‘shape video alarm response before it becomes widespread’
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Tuesday, November 26, 2013

HENDERSON, Nev.—With the goal of having a set of video verification standards in place by June 2014, a group of law enforcement and alarm industry representatives gathered for the first time to hash out the best-practices for video alarm response.

“The goal is to have the document ready for ESX [in June 2014],” Keith Jentoft, president of RSI Video Technologies and Videofied, and an industry liaison for PPVAR said. He added: “Right now we’re hoping [the standards writing body] is the CSAA. The default is to give it to them when we’re done with it so we can carry it forward as the official standard.”

The early meetings of the committee will focus on getting feedback from law enforcement, Jentoft noted. 

The collaborative approach appeals to Chief Steve Dye, a PPVAR board member who serves as chief of police in Grand Prairie, Texas, and as chairman of the alarm committee for the Texas Police Chief’s Association.

“This is about trying to work with the alarm industry to shape video alarm response before it becomes widespread,” Dye said. “Hopefully we’ll create a system that’s mutually beneficial to the alarm industry and to law enforcement, while also delivering a higher level of service to citizens.”

Jentoft said a major emphasis of the project is to “get out on the front end” of the standards development process for video alarms. Failing to do so, he said, raises concerns for law enforcement, who, according to Jentoft, are “concerned that video monitoring as a tool will be so muddied that it won’t be useful for them.”

This concern in part stems from unmonitored, do-it-yourself systems, especially if they’re not in some way filtered before reaching Public Safety Answering Points, or PSAPs, which tend to employ only a handful of call takers. Flooding PSAPs with calls can detract from what law enforcement view as one of video verification’s greatest strengths—its ability to aid in making arrests.

Dye said, “One of the biggest benefits of video alarms is the fact that they will deter crimes through apprehensions—not only among those we apprehend in responding to a video alarm, but among all other potential criminals the offender is going to communicate with after the apprehension.” 

While arresting (and deterring) criminals is a major impetus driving the development of written standards for video verification, reducing false alarms, minimizing property loss and enhanced officer safety are areas of concern that stand to be shored up as well, Dye said.

Dye said there’s still work to be done as far as educating commercial property owners about the merits of using video alarms in conjunction with traditional surveillance systems. This education process is crucial, said Dye, who believes video alarm technology ranks among the most valuable advancements he’s seen in 29 years in law enforcement.

“I applaud the alarm industry for opening up to collaborate,” he said, adding that law enforcement “wasn’t always involved in best-practices formation.” Working with PPVAR will allow stakeholders to avoid leaving a lot of gray area with video alarms, Dye noted, and clearly written standards will be crucial in terms of “shaping proper policy around video alarm response.”