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Chico revises ordinance, stops fining alarm companies

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Wednesday, April 8, 2015

In October, the City of Chico, Calif., passed an ordinance to fine alarm companies for false alarm dispatches. The California Alarm Association and SIAC responded, citing precedence in Fontana, Calif., where a similar ordinance was overturned. Now, the City of Chico has opted toward the standard action of fining alarm users for false alarms.

Jon Sargent in November told Security Systems News that SIAC remained available to help revise the ordinance.

SIAC is please with the outcome, Stan Martin, executive director for SIAC told me in an email interview.

Chico’s city council voted unanimously for the ordinance that fined alarm companies , and now it has voted unanimously to fine alarm users.

The new ordinance will fine alarm users $50 for the first false alarm, $100 for the second, and $200 for the third. The Chico Police Department can cease responding to repeat offenders, reported the Chico Enterprise-Record. The new ordinance also seeks alarm verification before dispatch.

The original ordinance proposed fining $100 to the alarm company after a first false alarm, and rising to $400 after consecutive false alarms.

“We are going to get a reduction in false alarms. That’s is what we wanted all along. If we get that, whether it’s the alarm user or the company, that is what we want,” Chico police Capt. Mike O’Brien said in the report. 

SIAC to keep a closer eye on local governments

Partnership with Stateside Associates to assist goal
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02/23/2015

FRISCO, Texas—SIAC on Feb. 9 started working with Stateside Associates, a state and local government affairs firm, to monitor pending ordinances that could affect the security industry.

SIAC follows up with Carson City

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Wednesday, February 11, 2015

About two months ago, Security Systems News spoke with Steve Keefer, national law enforcement liaison for SIAC, about the unique way the Carson City Sheriff’s Department approaches false alarms; by utilizing volunteers. Since, Keefer followed up with this sheriff’s office and found that while false alarms have dropped, it is difficult to determine how the volunteers were involved.

Upon looking at the figures over all reductions, “I told the sheriff, ‘I bet you’re close to a fifty percent reduction in your commercial [false alarms],” Keefer told SSN. Yet, because of how the data was organized, the exact influence of this volunteer program can’t currently be determined, Keefer said.

Keefer gave the sheriff recommendations, such as hand-outs, like flyers and printed statistics, as well as a heavier focus on false panic and hold-up alarms. “Those are probably more problematic for a police department, because you’re not getting, traditionally, two officers going to a robbery or hold-up—you’re probably getting three or four.”

A primary reason for Keefer’s follow-up was to investigate the viability this practice might hold for other jurisdictions, perhaps to be incorporated into SIAC’s recommended practices.

A positive aspect of this program is the small commitment for volunteers, Keefer said; they could finish a month’s duties in four hours, across two days. “It’s not draining by any means.”

According to Keefer, the city of 55,000 people saw about 1,300 false alarms last year. These false alarms are split about 70 percent commercial and 30 percent residential. While these volunteers exclusively visit commercial offenders, Keefer underlined that this method could benefit the residential sector as well.

The volunteers, a husband-and-wife pair, only visit businesses that have received two or more false alarms in a given month, totaling about 10 to 15 per month.

Volunteers fighting false alarms in Nevada

Carson City pioneering new approach
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12/09/2014

CARSON CITY, Nev.—The sheriff’s office here is using volunteers to reduce false alarm dispatches, an approach new to the Security Industry Alarm Coalition, SIAC says.

Volunteers fight false alarms in Carson City, Nev.

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Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Steve Keefer, western U.S. law enforcement liaison for SIAC, noticed that Carson City, Nevada, is trying something different in the attempt to reduce false alarms—utilizing volunteers through the sheriff’s office. This is an approach that is very new to SIAC, Keefer said.

These volunteers are “regular citizens that just want to help out in the community,” Keefer told Security Systems News.

The Carson City Sheriff’s Office started this approach at least five years ago, but SIAC hadn’t heard about it until recently, according to Keefer. 

The sheriff’s office has two volunteers that speak with false alarms offenders and discuss ways of reducing the problem. Apparently, these efforts, more often than not, are met with full cooperation.

Keefer said that these volunteers in Carson City, Nev., are currently speaking with commercial alarm users, but Keefer believes this process could have a residential application as well.

SIAC is an organization that is always focused on reducing the numbers of false alarms and the strain that puts on local authorities. As such they’ve been keeping an eye on people that approach this matter from different angles.

"What was unique about Carson City's Sheriff Office- they don't even have an ordinance," he said. Keefer mentioned that this could be a model that SIAC would recommend to other sheriff's offices if SIAC sees this lead to positive results in Carson City. 

This certainly seems to be a different way of going about the matter, as opposed to reforming ordinances or imposing fines for false alarms. This shows that the matter is not just one sided, that both citizens and authorities care about reducing false alarms.

California leads the way for SIAC

Organization forging new law enforcement partnerships in 2015
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11/17/2014

CHULA VISTA, Calif.—California is leading the way in adopting false alarm ordinances, according to Jon Sargent, the industry/law enforcement liaison for the Security Industry Alarm Coalition.

Ron Walters wins William Moody Award

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07/11/2014

NASHVILLE, Tenn.—Ron Walters, director of the Security Industry Alarm Association, was honored at ESX 2014 with the William Moody Award, according to a recent blog post from SIAC.

According to the blog, the award was “probably long overdue.”

PPVAR, SIAC talk verified alarm standards

Guidelines needed to govern how central stations and PSAPs interact during a dispatch
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06/11/2014

LAS VEGAS—It’s little wonder that the topic of verified alarms tends to spark dialogue between those in law enforcement and the alarm space. Intended to reduce false dispatches while increasing apprehensions, verified alarms—and the policies that guide them—are of critical importance to both groups, and continue to shape the relationship between them.

SIAC urges compliance with best practices to avoid false panic alarms

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06/03/2014

FRISCO, Texas—The Security Industry Alarm Coalition, a North American industry organization focused on alarm management, is urging the use of best practices to reduce false panic alarms triggered by key fobs, according to a news release.

Ohio city enacts alarm verification

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Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Plagued by an astronomical 98 percent false alarm rate for security systems, Akron, Ohio is following the lead of several other major American cities and introducing verified alarm response, according to a report from the Associated Press, and a news release from Sonitrol, an audio verification company.

The policy, adopted in larger cities such as Detroit, Las Vegas and Milwaukee, is simple: If an alarm goes off, a possible crime must be confirmed prior to law enforcement dispatch.

There are several causes of false alarms—outdated systems and installation flaws are among the most common culprits. But whatever the cause, the torrent of towns and cities taking measures to address them suggests that municipalities and police departments have had enough. In addition to being a budgetary drag, false alarms can potentially have dire consequences if they delay police response to more critical calls.

To some, enacting policies designed to confirm crime prior to police dispatch sets the stage for greater cooperation between the industry and law enforcement. But according to the AP report, not everyone is sold on these measures being the best means of ensuring maximum public safety. David Margulies, spokesman for the SIAC, was quoted in the report saying such policies are "basically putting the public in danger." To be sure, there is a fundamental tension between the need for municipalities to save resources by reducing false dispatch and certain ideas about the best policies for responding to alarms. In the coming days, I hope to gather some opinions on both sides of this debate.

I’ll be interested to hear how municipal measures to curb false dispatches through verification policies modify the demands of central station personnel on the ground level. As such policies become more widespread, how will the industry change? Does the future of monitored alarms involve video or audio verification becoming de rigueur?

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