Three alarm companies fighting Tucson disclosure plan
TUCSON, Ariz.— Three local alarm companies are protesting ordinance revisions that would require them to provide their customer lists to city police, calling it an invasion of their clients’ privacy.
The owners of Tucson Alarm, Young Alarm and Advanced ProTechtion have taken Assistant Police Chief John Leavitt to task for his proposal, which the City Council is scheduled to consider later this month. The revisions would also require every alarm holder to pay a $20 annual registration fee and provide city police with their name, address and phone number.
Roger Score, the owner of Tucson Alarm, said he is concerned that police will press alarm companies for information beyond customer lists, including pass codes and keypad codes.
“I have customers who expect me to keep their names confidential,” Score told Security Systems News. “I am following my constitutional right to protect my clients’ information.”
Maria Malice, president of the Arizona Alarm Association (AzAA), said the group has been working with Tucson police on revising the city's 2004 alarm ordinance and that the changes are “standard stuff.”
“They’re not trying to do anything that any other city doesn’t do,” she said. “If you pull (the ordinance) from Phoenix, it says the exact same thing. If you pull Scottsdale, it says the exact same thing. … They’re not asking for pass codes, they’re not asking for keypad codes, they’re not asking for a payment history.”
Malice said the alarm registration would help Tucson police offset some of the costs they incur when responding to false alarms, and give them information that might help reduce those dispatches.
“They don’t really know how many alarm systems they have out there right now in their city, because they don’t have a permit system,” she said. “They don’t know how many there are, so they don’t really know what the true false alarm rate is. They don’t know if it’s one per user or 10 per user.”
Leavitt said the police are only looking for basic information that will help officers respond to alarms safely and efficiently.
"(Score) is trying to make it look like this is some big info grab for intel, and it's not," he said. "We need to know the name, address and phone number for safety reasons for the officers who are responding. … We need to be able to contact people inside in case there's a problem."
The city would also use the lists provided by the alarm companies to bill all customers for the $20 registration fee, Leavitt said.
"The alternative would be to require each one of the alarm companies to bill their own customers for $20 to remit to the city," he said. "(The companies) don't want to do that, so we worked with them and we said give us your lists and we'll send the bill ourselves. That was at the request of the alarm companies."
Leavitt said false-alarm fines would be assessed differently under the revised ordinance. The fine for the first offense, which he said is currently $300, would be waived. The fine for a second offense would be $100, but it would be waived if the customer completed an alarm user awareness class. Fines for subsequent false alarms would be $100, rising to $200 with the eighth violation. The changes would also shift the processing of false-alarm fines to the city instead of having them handled by the courts.
"Our goal is not to collect money on violations," he said. "Our goal is to get registration and compliance."
Score disagreed and questioned Tucson's approach for reducing false alarms, saying it would be more effective to put the onus on alarm companies instead of customers.
"The city doesn't want to eliminate the problem, it wants to escalate it (for revenue)," he said. "All it will be for is to invade people's privacy. (The revised ordinance) is a direct attack on people just trying to keep a burglar out of their house."
Score said he will continue to fight the ordinance changes and the city's requirement that alarm companies be licensed, which he said violates state law. He said he had never complied with the licensing provision of the 2004 alarm ordinance, but did so in January because the city had started to enforce it.
“I’m licensed by the ROC (state Registrar of Contractors),” he said. “The city can’t require a license of me.”
Leavitt said Tucson Alarm, Young Alarm and Advanced ProTechtion were the only three alarm companies in the city that hadn’t been licensed as of 2011.
“They’ve all complied now,” he said.