Dallas resumes response

Mayor says high number of false alarms still an issue
Thursday, November 1, 2007

DALLAS--Effective Oct. 1, the Dallas police department once again began responding to commercial burglar alarms. In a decision that may be a portent for the entire alarm industry, the Dallas City Council voted 11-to-4 on Sept. 12 to rescind its response verification policy for commercial alarms.
Dallas Mayor Tom Leppert showed his support for repealing the ordinance. "I visited with a number of medium- and small-sized businesses and clearly it was a major issue they were concerned about,"said Mayor Leppert. "Secondly, this is a time when it is important for our city to attract business and retain the business we have, and it was a policy that I did not think sent the right messages. Finally, I would also say there were a number of individual instances that were raised to me when the policy was in effect where I just didn't think we did the right thing. I didn't feel we were as responsive as we could have been."
The city of Dallas was the first major city to enact a commercial alarm verification policy and now it is the first to rescind that ordinance, according to Chris Russell, president of the North Texas Alarm Association. "Any city considering [a response verification policy] should take a hard look at Dallas and understand why it was that they rescinded that ordinance," said Russell. "Their citizens didn't want it, it was dangerous, it was sending the wrong message to criminals and they realized it was a bad policy and that is not the type of city Dallas wanted to be."
Although its response verification policy has been repealed, the city of Dallas will continue to pursue ways to reduce false alarm dispatches, said Mayor Leppert. "I've asked our public safety committee [to look into ways to reduce false alarms] and we have a lot of different options ranging from education to, over time, changing the fee structure for false alarms, to changing the fee structure in the state of Texas," said Leppert. "We're going to need assistance from the Legislature, but I hope that the alarm industry is supportive of those changes."
Texan alarm companies are pleased with the City Council's decision, but recognize the need to continue to reduce the number of false alarms, Russell said. "We wanted to make it a point not to treat this like there are any clear-cut winners or losers in this issue," said Russell. "This is actually the beginning of our efforts to start working together to reduce false alarms."