Municipality ponders private security officer response to all alarms
SHAWNEE, Kan.—Police officials here were putting together a proposal for the Shawnee City Council’s vote that would have required monitoring companies in the municipality to verify all alarms via a private security officer before dispatching alarms to the police. It’s a very restrictive form of verified response that could have had huge implications for the security industry had it gone through, officials said.
“The meeting with the Shawnee City Council, city manager and law enforcement was a win for all concerned,” said Kansas City Burglar and Fire Alarm Association president Bob Scales, who is owner of Safeguard Alarms, based in Kansas City, Mo. “We almost got caught by surprise with this … But the good news for us is that the City Council didn’t bite because they’re all business owners. That’s huge. They understand the user side of the issue. They pay for alarm systems and they expect service.” Scales said the association would be as involved as possible in Shawnee’s false alarm reduction efforts in the future.
The city held a meeting on Dec. 7 during which both sides of the issue presented their arguments. After hearing both the industry and police sides of the issue, the council voted.
“Last night local leadership attended a meeting with the Shawnee City Officials and Police Department to discuss the viability of a non-response-to-alarms policy,” said SIAC director Ron Walters in a Dec. 8 email to industry representatives. “After presentations by both sides, the Council voted down the proposed policy shift, and directed the police to meet with the industry leaders to find an alternative to non response.”
The Dec. 7 meeting followed a Nov. 29 meeting that addressed police response to private alarms and solicited input from the public on the proposed new policy. SPD Lt. Jodi Andrews moderated the meeting and said attendance was not indicative of a high level of public interest in the issue. “I invited 25 businesses individually via letter because they had a lot of false alarms. So they were specifically asked to come. But the meeting wasn’t that well attended. I had two citizens who had alarms and a couple of citizens who didn’t and a few alarm company guys,” Andrews said. “They were very helpful and provided a lot of good suggestions. This was just a public meeting to say, ‘Hey this is something we’re thinking about, so come and let us know what you think.’”
Keith Bowman and Bob Vilumis of Metro Security Watch and Jade Alarm president Joe Pfefer, attended the Nov. 29 meeting.
Walters was pleased with the outcome in Shawnee and praised the industry’s response.
“This is a huge victory for the alarm users of Shawnee, and the efforts by Bob Scales of Safeguard KC and Keith Bowman of Metro Security should be singled out. While quite a few dealers engaged in this issue, these two individuals put their businesses aside for over a week while preparing for [the December 7] meeting,” Walters said in the email. “In the coming days we will be engaging the authorities in Shawnee to develop a program that suits the community. It is asked that each of you keep an open mind to what is proposed. In the meantime, we all owe a debt of gratitude to those who stepped forward and spoke out.”