Detroit’s false alarm rate drops 31%

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Thursday, July 1, 2004

DETROIT - A year after eight local monitoring centers and two national central stations took a pledge to reform the top 5 percent of alarm abusers, false alarms in the city dropped 31 percent during the first five months of this year.
The dramatic reduction is thanks to the efforts of the Burglar & Fire Alarm Association of Michigan that drafted the Michigan Alarm Industry Pledge last fall, through its Detroit False Alarm Reduction committee.

The goal was simple, provide these customers with the knowledge and equipment they need to help reduce their false alarms. If they continue to recklessly utilize the systems they have, then they would be dropped as clients.

The move was precipitated by a threat from the Detroit police department to stop responding to burglar alarms.

“This was a sort of jolt for us, and it awaken us to do something about it,” said Hank Luks, chairman of the committee. Luks is vice-president of the association and president-elect, a position he assumes in October.

Through several meetings with the local police department and city council, committee members identified some key areas that needed to be improved. They identified that the alarm industry’s terminology had evolved but not in conjunction with the police department.

How alarm center operators and dispatchers communicate was also identified as a weak bridge. The committee identified that in some cases call center operators failed to identify if the location of an alarm was on the east or west side of a road. Additionally, the committee recommended that call center operators notify police when an alarm is mistakenly tripped and the circumstances involved, forewarning the police en route to the location.

For Detroit, the false alarm efforts paid off. During the first five months of 2004, Detroit recorded 33,262 false alarms, down from 48,382 during the same period from the previous year.

“You may know the problem but not go after it. But they went to the heart of the problem,” said Bill Cooper, an industry liaison manager for ADT who worked with the committee. Cooper supports the approach that was taken: target the abusers to reduce false alarms. He also stresses the consequences of not doing so, including bad relations with law enforcement and ultimately non-response.