Industry works with Nassau to save jobs

Sunday, March 1, 2009

MINEOLA, N.Y.--Security industry representatives on Jan. 28 met with Nassau County Police Commissioner Lawrence Mulvey, at Nassau County Police Headquarters, to ask him to rethink proposed legislation that would threaten the alarm industry in Nassau County. The proposed legislation would have connected home and business burglar alarms directly to the Nassau County Police Department. The proposal called for alarm system owners to pay a $300 yearly fee in exchange for monitoring and response services. According to published reports, more than 400 licensed alarm companies, representing 2,000 to 3,000 jobs, would have been negatively impacted if the legislation passed.

According to industry attorney Ken Kirschenbaum, of Kirschenbaum & Kirschenbaum, PC, the proposal showed a lack consideration of all the complexities of alarm monitoring. “They were focusing strictly on a revenue raising concept without looking at the other side of the operation - the expenses involved, not to mention issues such as liability - and the police commissioner was confident that the legislation, as proposed now, is certainly not going forward.”

Andrew Lowitt, vice president of Hicksville, N.Y.-based Lowitt Alarms, pointed out the complications, like job loss, inherent in government agencies getting involved in the realm of private business. “Whenever you have a governmental agency going into private sector business, that’s a concern - a big concern,” Lowitt said. Lowitt also stressed Nassau County as an example of why it’s  important for the industry to stay informed through associations like the Security Industry Alarm Coalition and CSAA. “I want to thank both Stan Martin at SIAC and Celia Besore at the CSAA for alerting the industry and helping us resolve this issue satisfactorily,” Lowitt said.

Kirschenbaum said industry representatives in attendance at the recent meeting called for more cooperation between lawmakers and the alarm industry. “I believe the commissioner was extremely receptive to that,” Kirschenbaum said, “and we’re looking forward to the appointment of an alarm coordinator who would begin working more closely with the industry.”

Mulvey said the intent of the proposal was not to hurt the alarm industry. “There was a day when all the alarms came here to the police department,” Mulvey said. “And now with our new CAD [computer-aided dispatch] systems and whatnot, I thought that we would get back into the business.”

Mulvey said that a tentative plan was in place to at least partially fill Nassau’s current budget hole. “Residential and commercial alarms need to acquire a permit from the county, and that’s a $25 a year fee … We agreed as a group that I’m probably not capturing all of the alarm systems here in the county … so we agreed to work together to see if I can garner more of those alarm systems and get them permitted.”