'Best central station in the world' assists in 151 apprehensions in July

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Thursday, August 5, 2010

FRESNO, Calif.—Kimberlite (dba Sonitrol Security) president Tom Patterson isn’t shy about touting his company—with roughly 6,800 systems in service and RMR of around $950,000. “It’s my belief that we have the best central station in the world, measured in terms of criminal apprehensions as a percentage of systems monitored,” Patterson said. “The Sonitrol network across the country probably helps local police arrest considerably more criminals than the non-verified competition. Kimberlite routinely—with roughly six percent of the Sonitrol systems in service—apprehends between 20 and 25 percent of the criminals arrested by the Sonitrol network in a given year. And this year it’s certainly going to be north of 25 percent because of the year we’re going to have. So, we’re apprehending criminals at about four times the rate which one would expect.”

Patterson’s referring to Kimberlite/Sonitrol Security’s “record-breaking” July, which saw the company help police apprehend 151 criminals. In discussing the previous month’s activities, Patterson touched on a familiar topic to readers of Security Systems News: Police will give priority response to a verified alarm. “This kind of news strengthens everyone’s faith in verified alarms, which without fail—we’ve been doing this for 35 years and we know it to be the case—when you verify an alarm ahead of time police know it’s not just another false alarm and they respond quickly and in force, expecting to encounter a criminal,” Patterson said. “I think, at the end of the day, customers want apprehensions from their alarm systems, and police have confidence in verified alarms.”

SSN has been covering the genesis of the proactive verified alarm movement being spearheaded by the likes of Videofied and Sonitrol. Police departments are coming forward and declaring their preference for alarms that are verified through video, audio or eyewitness account.

Sonitrol Security general manager of central station operations Marcos Reyes has been with the company for 16 years. He took a hiatus from Sonitrol Security to become a police officer, first for the Fresno and then the Sanger police departments. “I can speak firsthand, having been a police officer for four years, and one of the things that police officers love is to make apprehensions and catch the bad guys,” Reyes said. “When I was out in the field and we received a Sonitrol alarm, the nice thing about it is that it was verifiable and they could tell us what was happening in real time. We would respond to those calls as fast as we could and would break other calls—like if we were on a traffic ticket—and the dispatcher would come over the radio and say they could hear movement, so we know a crime is in progress. We respond much more quickly.”

Does this mean verified alarms are better than their non-verified brethren? Not necessarily, according to Patterson. “At the end of the day, I believe customers want apprehensions from their alarm systems … and apprehensions are what we do. We celebrate these kinds of things. It’s a part of the Sonitrol culture … I don’t think that a traditional alarm company thinks their job is to apprehend criminals. I think they feel their job is to sound an alarm bell and scare people away,” Patterson said. “[Audio and video] are expensive and we’re protecting people with a serious risk profile and the money to protect their assets. I don’t think conventional security companies are the least bit embarrassed about the quality of their product and I’m not suggesting they should be.”

So, the question remains, is Sonitrol Security the best central station in the world? “I admit that I don’t have comprehensive empirical data to back up my belief,” Patterson said. “And I would be happy to retract my words if any evidence to the contrary were offered up by another central station.”