Colorado Springs PD recognized for open forum work on alarm ordinance

Thursday, December 18, 2008

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo.--The Security Industry Alarm Coalition recently presented the Colorado Springs Police Department with its Director's Award of Distinction for the department's instrumental role in developing an open-to-the-public process for creating a false alarm ordinance for city officials to vote on.
SIAC representative Dave Simon, who is the spokesperson for Brink's Home Security, said he saw the action of the CSPD as an important, trend-setting example of the right way to get things done. "This award is not a run-of-the-mill thing. A police department has to stand out in its uniqueness in what it's done in terms of some element of working to improve alarm management practices, open up a forum on alarm management practices, which was the case here, by involving all the parties that should have a say," Simon said. "If you look at these ordinances around the country, you might think, 'Shouldn't they all be standard?' But all communities really have different nuances ... This was done the right way. The wrong way is to decide on something, then announce it, then defend it. And that happens with a lot of ordinances and policies around the country."
The SIAC award, presented to the CSPD at the city's Dec. 9 city council meeting, recognizes the CSPD's foresight in establishing an open public meeting process that ensured all parties with an interest in the alarm ordinance--law enforcement, private citizenry, elected officials and the security industry--had a forum in which to express opinion on issues of concern.
CSPD deputy chief Ron Gibson said the CSPD's purpose in initiating an inclusive process was to be democratic from the start and thereby avoid trouble in the future. "When we set out on the process, we knew that if we didn't involve the stakeholders, especially the alarm companies, when we got before city council, if they disagreed with anything and didn't have a chance to at least have some input, we would have been back to square one," Gibson said. "So we set out intentionally in the beginning to take a very long, slow approach to it. I think it took us over six months worth of input."
Gibson feels confident that the time and effort were well spent in creating an ordinance everyone can feel is fair. "The alarm industry wants to reduce those false alarms. The customers want to reduce the false alarms. We want to reduce the false alarms. We tried to take the approach of: 'We all have the same goal, let's just figure out how to get there.'"