L.A. task force continues to debate non-response plan

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Tuesday, April 1, 2003

LOS ANGELES - For the past several months, representatives from the alarm industry have been fighting to prevent implementation of a controversial non-response policy approved by the Los Angeles Police Commission in January.

Now, even as a task force is meeting to discuss the issue, at least one member of the task force thinks that court action may be necessary to prevent the police from enacting their policy.

The task force has been given a 60-day time frame to discuss the LAPD policy and its impact on Los Angeles residents, and to formulate a possible alternative to the police department’s policy.

George DeMarco, southern vice president of the California Alarm Association, who is serving on the task force, said he feels the 60 days allotted to the panel is not nearly enough for the work to be completed.

“I don’t think they are going to make headway,” DeMarco said. “It’s a big task to undertake in 60 days.”

While he would not discuss specific plans, DeMarco said that it is likely the alarm industry would turn to the courts to block the policy. “We believe we are going to file an injunction (to stop implementation of the policy),” he said. DeMarco did not specify a timetable for any court action.

Under the terms of the policy, in an effort to combat false alarms, the Los Angeles police would no longer respond to burglar alarm calls unless the call is verified by a witness.

Alarm industry representatives have been extremely vocal in voicing opposition to the plan.

According to Merlin Guilbeau, executive director of the National Burglar & Fire Alarm Association, responding to alarm calls is vital to public safety, and should not be left to private security guards.

“We have always had the position that trained police officers should be responding to an alarm system,” Guilbeau said. “If the training of private response was anywhere near what police officers go through, we’d feel more comfortable about it.”