Dallas remains hub of verified debate

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Tuesday, May 1, 2007

DALLAS--On the first anniversary of Dallas' adoption of a qualified video response policy for commercial security alarms, the topic remains a hot-button issue. In a mayoral candidates' debate held March 29, the Dallas Morning News reports that only one candidate believed a substantial benefit had been accrued from the policy, while in a separate article the police department heartily praised the initiative.
According to the Morning News, four of seven candidates said they'd "change or oppose" the verified policy, two were relatively non-committal, and one endorsed the program. Even this last candidate, however, said he'd be willing to revisit the issue.
So, too, would the Dallas police department like to revisit the law, according to the Morning News. Though the police deem the campaign as successful, the department is going to recommend that audio and video verification be added to the law, so that alarms needn't solely be verified in person. That ought to go some way toward satisfying those like Chris Russell, owner of Amazon Alarm Systems and president of the North Texas Alarm Association, who have complained about that discrepancy in the past. Russell has always maintained the primary problem with the Dallas policy is that, "the monitoring company seeing the video doesn't count as a human confirmation ... You have to contact the business owner and have him call the cops."
The numbers surrounding the verified policy don't paint a clear picture. The department announced $1.5 million in saved man-hour allocations, enough to pay for 24 full-time officers, and the rate of business burglary has been basically flat. The total number of false alarms (including residential, which are not affected by the verified law) decreased by half, while response times are down just nine percent.
The City Council, however, noted that the city lost $1.1 million in false alarm fees and permit fees because of the law, and one councilor wondered if the verified policy wasn't hurting economic development.