Detroit no longer responding to unverified alarms

 - 
08/18/2011

I picked up on a news story the other day from The Detroit Free Press about the city's new policy--effective Monday, Aug. 22--of no longer responding to alarms that aren't verified by the alarm system owner or the monitoring company.

Of course, verification is something I've written a lot about, covering stories from companies like RSI Video Technologies (avid readers know that I field a lot of calls from RSI's Keith Jentoft), Sonitrol, and Provident Security that have a strong verification aspect to their business model. In fact, shortly after seeing the Detroit Free Press story, I picked up a tweet from Provident's main man Mike Jagger. I've talked with Mike about his company's business model of private response to all alarms for verification purpose before. Mike said in his tweet he thinks that all municipalities should stop responding to unverified alarms.

I wrote about Detroit going to an ECV policy late last year. That policy was drafted with help from SIAC. ECV requires a second phone call to a different number to help determine if an emergency exists. This new change in policy is what SIAC had hoped to avoid last year. The new verified response policy states that the DPD will no longer respond to an alarm unless it is verified by the alarm company by private response or by technological means (video or audio) that there is actually a crime in progress.

From the Free Press story:

'We at the police department are working hard to serve the citizens; however, nowadays we have to rely more on technology to help solve our problems because we're not getting any more resources,' said Detroit Police Cmdr. Todd Bettison.

'Our main goal is to respond to crime, and if we can utilize modern technology, then so much the better. We feel very passionate about this,' Bettison said. 'We've been looking at this for a long time and from what we've observed this is definitely the way to go. Verified response will take us to the next level.'

Citing a U. S. Department of Justice report, a department press release said verified response is a reliable practice toward eliminating waste and improving police service. Since 1991, approximately 30 police departments in the U.S. and Canada have adopted the policy, including Las Vegas, Salt Lake City, Milwaukee and Madison, Wis., and Fremont, Calif.

Godbee said verified response will result in significant time savings for police, allowing more time for preventive policing activities while freeing officers to respond to higher priority calls.

Video Security Monitoring of Oak Park is among a handful of local companies that already offer video verification. The company issued a news release Monday touting its service.

Sounds like strong advocacy for video and audio (or private guard) verification of alarms.

I've got emails out to the guys over at SIAC to see what the word is there.

Comments

Faced with strained, limited resources, the Detroit Police Department made a decision on how to best deploy their officers. In contrast to how decisions are made in many municipalities, the DPD looked around the country to see how other large cities have addressed their alarm response policies. They looked at data and examined the currently available alarm technology. From this, they concluded that the status quo was unsustainable.

And from a practical standpoint, it's hard to defend asking police to make an emergency run to a location that may or may not be experiencing a crime. Their preference, understandably, is to go where the crime is and make apprehensions. As a business owner, I would prefer knowing that if a break-in is occuring in my building, the police are on their way as opposed to hoping that my alarm is the one real one accompanying forty-nine false alarms that they choose to dispatch to.

Police are trained to deal with criminals and make arrests. This policy puts them in a better position to do just that.

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