County suspends false alarm fines, ECV to bag bad guys

Thursday, May 14, 2009

TACOMA, Wash.--In what SIAC director Ron Walters called a "great example of cooperation between law enforcement and our industry," a Washington sheriff's department suspended the county's false alarm fines and enhanced call verification requirements to catch a group of five suspected burglars. The temporary suspension of procedure worked.

Suspension of ECV and fines "and sometimes all calls" is something that "occurs a couple times a year," Walters said. SIAC and others actively encourage police departments "to interface with the alarm industry when there's a specific problem in an area [such as the situation in Tacoma]," Walters said.

In March and April, the Pierce County Sheriff's Department appealed to the Washington Burglar and Fire Alarm Association to ask its members to temporarily modify alarm dispatch procedures to assist in the Sheriff's attempts to capture a group of individuals believed to be responsible for a series of connected burglaries. The Sheriff's Department asked alarm companies in a designated area, where the break ins were occurring, to react to a single alarm and suspend the usual two-call verification until after dispatch. The Sheriff also suspended false alarm fines to the amended area during the amendment period.

The procedural change paid off, and the Washington Burglar & Fire Alarm Association in an April 27 letter passed along thanks from the Sheriff's Department. "The Pierce County Sheriff's Office would like to thank everyone for this cooperative effort. Five suspects have been identified, three of whom are in jail. They were actually caught in Snohomish County, but there is sufficient evidence to tie the group to the Pierce County burglaries as well," the letter read. "With these captures, the need for this suspension of dispatch 'rules' for Pierce County has ended and we are asked to go back to the ordinance protocols."

Pierce County has since returned to usual false alarm ordinance protocols of ECV and fines.