Letter writer misses the mark, is misinformed
The author of "Texas House Bill 2304 Is Just Wrong" (June 2005, Security Systems News, Mailbox) is misinformed and frankly missed the target. The writer makes statements in his letter such as "the alarm security industry is attempting to divert first responders" and the alarm security industry is "attempting to legislate at a state level, that police respond first to their alarm signals." The Texas bill does not attempt to "divert first responders" nor does it require "police respond first to alarm signals" as the writer has insinuated. In fact, the bill clearly states, "Nothing in this subchapter affects the priority or level of response provided by a municipality to a permitted location."
The bill places financial limits on municipal fees and fines while allowing for total capture of police response cost. Net effect, alarm users increase municipal income enabling more police officers on the street to be available to respond to the exact homeland security needs the writer alludes to. Thanks to all the fee- and fine-paying alarm users in Texas, there should be a few additional police working the beat who can respond to the homeland security need. Police are allowed to terminate response to alarm users who have more than eight false responses within a 12-month period. A city may require the alarm monitoring company to place two calls to the alarm user before notifying the police department. Alarm companies must notify municipalities with prescribed information about alarm installations and must furnish alarm users with information about the state law and written documentation on how to properly use the system and how to avoid false alarms. The bill also requires that all alarm control panels installed after December 2006 meet the ANSI/SIA CP-01 standard for false alarm reduction. What state other than Texas has stepped to this level?
Lastly, the Texas bill clearly allows a municipality to adopt a non-response or verified-response ordinance for alarm users. Before doing so, the bill simply stipulates that alarm users (whom after all are paying for the police response) be notified and allowed to be heard by their local elected officials. What part of open government is the writer afraid of here? The part that allows citizens of a respective city to have input over the city services they pay for?
I'm proud to have played an active role in Texas House Bill 2304 (which subsequently became a part of Texas Senate Bill 568), and I'm proud to be a part of a state alarm association that is willing to spend time and money working for the best interest of alarm users. I'm especially proud of Texas Representative Joe Driver and Texas Senator Ken Armbrister and their staff for the long hours spent working with the police, municipal and alarm industry representatives.
Director of Legislative Affairs
Texas Burglar & Fire Alarm Assoc.