Multiple verification: friend or foe?

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Saturday, March 1, 2003

An issue has arisen concerning the possibility of central stations making multiple verification calls on alarms prior to dispatching the police department. Our local law enforcement agencies are beginning to give consideration to possibly adopting this policy.

While I understand the local agencies are considering the policy in an effort to cut down on the number of false alarms they are responding to, as a representative of a central monitoring station, I don’t believe this policy does anything but assist the perpetrator. I do strongly believe that everyone in the industry should work together to help reduce the number of false alarms that our law enforcement agencies are responding to. That is to include all from the installing alarm company to every individual in the industry that the end user may come in contact with.

However, I believe that multiple verification calls are not in the best interest of the one arena that we are all in the business to serve . . . the community. In fact, I believe that multiple verification calls will only assist in leaving the community as a whole more vulnerable to crime. The statistics state that more than 95 percent of the alarms the police respond to are false; approximately 75 percent of those are caused by error. But exactly what percentage of these totals are repeat offenders?

Based on the signals that are handled at our central station, I would venture to say that over half of the 95 percent are the same person(s) or businesses. Based on our everyday experiences, there are some residential and business alarms that one could set their watch by. They are set off at about the same time every day, and no one answers when the premise is called for verification. These are the end-users that should be forced to use multiple verification calling.

If the other agency’s employees are anything like ours, they can immediately begin to rattle off the list of excessive abusers. We need to use this information to target and hold accountable the person(s) or businesses that are keeping the agencies from properly policing our community.

Multiple verification calls for everyone is not the answer; it serves no purpose but to penalize the masses that actually do a responsible job of owning an alarm system. It has been my experience that on alarms that have multiple verification calling, if the users are irresponsible in the operations, they are just as irresponsible in answering calls or returning calls, as well.

Additionally, making this a mandate for all would only serve in alerting the predators to the opportunity of more time before anyone will respond, thus putting the community in even greater danger.

I believe that all other options should be utilized prior to resorting to multiple verification calling as the answer.

April Cannon is the general manager of ACM U.L. Monitoring Station, a contract central station in Phoenix. She may be reached at 800-422-0205.