Manteca, Calif., considers verified response

Sunday, March 1, 2009

MANTECA, Calif.--The Manteca City Council met Feb. 3 to discuss proposed changes to the city’s current false alarm ordinance. There was general agreement on a move that would drop allowable false alarms from two per month to two per year. However, there was contention over a proposed move to verified response, and the ordinance change was tabled until a March 3 meeting so industry representatives could discuss the matter further with Manteca Police Chief Dave Briker, who proposed the changes.

According to Security Industry Alarm Coalition director Ron Walters, the free false alarm reduction is needed. “It’s excessive,” Walters said. “We’ve found that two at the most and one is sufficient.”

Briker agrees: “It had been around since Moses was a child and they just never changed it.”

Proposed fine increases are sizeable, as well. The old ordinance assessed a $50 fine for false alarms three, four and five in a month. The new ordinance proposes a fine of $100 for false alarm three, $200 for number four, and $400 for the fifth false alarm in a year. Walters felt that was warranted.

More worrisome to the industry than increased fines, however, was the proposal by Chief Briker to switch Manteca to verified response. According to California Alarm Association immediate past president Jon Sargent, who is also SIAC industry/law enforcement liaison and ADT head of industry relations-West, verified response is generally a bad idea. “The truth is, verified response has been implemented in a handful of cities, and already six municipalities have thrown it out,” said Sargent, who attended the meeting and spoke with Chief Briker on behalf of SIAC. “We feel it’s just too intense to impose it across the board on all of the citizens in the community, because there are citizens who aren’t having false alarms.” Sargent said he was impressed with the Manteca Police Chief’s willingness to listen to industry concerns. “[Briker’s] also proposed in the policy to allow multiple zone trips. So if you get more than one zone trip, they would consider that verified.”

Briker said for now the old ordinance will remain in force while he and industry representatives try and work out a mutually agreeable resolution.