By Tony Orso, Puget Sound Regional Sales Manager
What if your alarm system didn’t help the police catch the bad guys?
I heard a story about a break-in at a customer of Sonitrol Pacific. Our customer owns a small deli and installed a Sonitrol system after a burglary. One night not long ago our system activated, we heard the bad guy breaking in and we dispatched the police. When the police arrived they captured the burglar as he attempted to burglarize our customer’s business. Nice job by our people and our system. As the police were talking about the attempted break-in, they got a call from another alarm company. Turns out that the person in the back seat of the police car had broken into another business earlier that night – they got the call after they had arrested for a second break in.
Why might the police not arrive at your business as fast as you think they should? Here are three reasons for you to consider:
1) A common reason is that the police may not respond to an unverified alarm. False alarms are a huge problem for police departments – especially in this era of tight budgets. I have seen false alarm rates published in the in the high 90% range. That means that police officers are usually responding to a false alarm. Would you be in a hurry to respond to an alarm that is probably a waste of time? Many departments only allow response if the alarm is a verified alarm. We knew that the break in was real so we dispatched the police very quickly – in fact we called the police before we called the business owner.
2) High false alarm numbers also mean that many alarm monitoring centers have to call your business after an alarm signal is sent from your business. If there is no answer they start calling people on the call list until someone answers. These steps may take a few minutes before the alarm company gets “permission” from you to call the police. How fast do you answer your phone at 3am? In this case we didn’t call the business or the owner…just the police so they could respond quickly.
3) Some alarm centers have operators that monitor many thousands of accounts. With a high number of accounts per operator you may run into situations where there are multiple activations at one time. Do you know how long it takes from the time your company receives a signal until they actually start calling? Our people listened in and verified an actual break in. Because we have a great system and a low customer to operator ratio we could dispatch the police quickly.
There are many reasons your alarm system may not work they way you thought it would. Before you blame the police for slow response you need to think about your system. Is it a verified system? Can your company call the police without going through a multiple call process? Can your company get the call out quickly once the signal gets to them? If your company can’t answer these questions to your satisfaction give us a call!