Arresting the alarming consequences of false alarms

Michelle Evans

By Michelle Evans, Verification Center Manager

Many of our cities and counties have created false alarm ordinances and established citation/fine schedules following careful analysis of response costs when an alarm activates.  Today more than 98 percent of the dispatched alarm calls for police response are deemed false.  Police departments state that more than 20 percent of their officers’ time is spent responding to false alarms.

Historically, the costs of these responses have been paid by the city or county general funds. However, today the city of Seattle estimates false alarm fees will recover more than $1.8 million in costs that were previously absorbed by general taxpayers, approximately $1,000,000 in 2010.

Many communities are facing proposed and actual cut backs in their budgets and are following Seattle’s lead in enforcing false alarm fines. At Sonitrol Pacific, our goal is to partner with law enforcement and our customers to make the best possible use of the officers’ time, provide you with the best response time for valid burglary and emergency situations, and keep false alarms to a minimum.  Presently, our valid dispatch rate is 17 times better than the industry average.  Our target is to be at least 30 times better.

Minimizing false alarms will take all of us working together. At Sonitrol Pacific we are committed to the following efforts to reduce false alarms:
•    A Sonitrol Pacific Customer Service Representative will visit your site and review your after hours call lists annually at no cost to you.
•    If you have a false alarm, we will send a Service Technician or a Customer Service Representative to visit you and determine the cause of the false alarm and work with you to insure it does not happen again. There is no cost to you.
•    Sonitrol Pacific offers complimentary signage to remind your employees to turn off the security system.
•    We will provide free ongoing group or one- on -one training to you and your employees on how to properly operate your alarm system.

How you can help:
•    Take advantage of the free signage offered by Sonitrol Pacific to remind your employees to turn on and off the system.
•    Use the designated door for entry and exit and within the allotted time
•    If you make changes in building usage, notify us so we can visit you and make the appropriate modifications to your Sonitrol system.
•    Take advantage of the free group or one on one training provided by the Sonitrol Pacific Customer Service Representatives.
•    Update your “After Hours” contact list to ensure that we have accurate contact name and phone number information.
•    Inform your emergency contacts that Sonitrol Pacific may call and that answering their phone is important.
•    Let us know in advance if you will have workers outside of your business when your security system is turned on, i.e. landscapers, window washers, etc.

Working together, we will minimize any unnecessary use of valuable police resources.  Our success has been built upon the continued confidence of law enforcement agencies and the highest apprehension rate in the industry.  We look forward to continuing this partnership with you. Please do not hesitate to call with any questions you may have.