Case dismissed

Judge tosses case against central station manager
 - 
Friday, April 15, 2005

SALT LAKE CITY - A judge this week dismissed charges against Jeff Howe, the Peak Alarm Co. central station manager accused of providing false information to police.

On Monday, Judge Paul Iwasaki threw out the charges after the prosecution presented its case, citing a lack of evidence to support the charge. If he had been found guilty, Howe would have faced a fine of $650 and six months’ probation, which could have led to the revocation of his license to work in the security industry, according to Peak Alarm President Jerry Howe, who is Jeff’s father.

Jerry Howe said while the potential penalty against his son had been reduced from the original six months in jail and up to $1,000 fine, the company was determined to fight the charges rather than settle because of the potential for similar cases to be filed in jurisdictions nationwide.

“[Salt Lake City] has pushed the industry around for so long that we’re not taking anything. Even if he wasn’t my son, we were going to fight this,” he said. “Someone needs to pay for what damage has been done to the industry, and to Jeff Howe and Peak Alarm in this city.”

As reported in the November 2003 issue of Security Systems News, the charges against Jeff Howe stemmed from a July 2003 alarm at West High School in Salt Lake City. A school employee called Peak Alarm’s central station to report that two or three unauthorized people were in the building. Police initially refused to respond because the city’s ordinance requires that alarms be verified by a private security guard.

Jeff Howe called police back a few minutes later to report that a Peak security guard had verified the need for police response. However, according to Jerry Howe, Jeff had assumed it was a Peak guard who verified the alarm but in fact it was not. When police responded, they determined that the alarm had been false.

“Jeff apologized to the police for making that assumption at the time,” Jerry Howe said.

Neither Shanna Werner, Salt Lake City’s alarm administrator, nor City Prosecutor Simarjit Gill, who handled the case, could be reached for comment by the Newswire deadline. However, Gill told the Deseret Morning News that the disposal of this case could lead to different handling of similar cases in the future.

“It may raise the question of whether we prosecute these types of cases,” he told the paper. The city has 30 days to file an appeal.

It is unclear whether the city would file an appeal, but Jerry Howe said his attorneys are reviewing their options just in case.

For more on this story, see the May issue of Security Systems News.