NH Police department to stop monitoring alarms

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Thursday, October 19, 2006

BOW, N.H.-Residents and businesses whose alarm systems are monitored by the Bow Police Department are required to switch over to a commercial provider by Dec. 1, the day the police department is planning to switch off its alarm panel for good "if it doesn't break before then," said Police Chief Jeff Jaran.
"It's an antiquated system that was installed back in the mid-to-late'70s, when the population was more manageable. We aren't even touching the tip of the iceberg to what central alarm companies can provide."
The chief said that switching to commercial providers won't necessarily free up money in the department's annual budget, but it will free up time for their dispatchers.
Due to "shoddy record-keeping," and an out-of-date code system, dispatchers currently have to look up households and businesses once an alarm goes off and try to pinpoint where the event is happening. There were other logistical problems, too. "Over the years, alarm companies that would hook up into our alarm panel wouldn't necessarily notify us [about that fact]," said the chief.
The cost of paying a commercial provider for an alarm system in Bow and surrounding communities will range from "$200-$500 per year," said Steve Mango, secretary of the New Hampshire Alarm Association and vice president of Mango Security Systems in Franklin, NH. Mango said that he's seen some other cities do the same thing in recent years. "Today, I find municipalities have older equipment that don't pick up signals in a pulsing format, for example. We have seen some towns that get out of [alarm monitoring] due to the cost of maintaining equipment, which was an issue for Bow." Mango also said that municipalities are starting to be concerned about liability. "If somebody has their system set up to report to a certain place and maintains their phones in good working order, if the police don't perform their duty, there could a liability issue in the future." While monitoring companies carry insurance for such occurrences, municipalities most likely do not.
Although there are no hard numbers, Jaran believes that the percentage of people still using the police department's alarm monitoring system in the Bow area "is small."
They plan to notify people of the December 1 switch-off in the newspapers and other media outlets. By all accounts, the chief is not sorry to see the old system, a model 6000 Omega alarm digital receiver, put out to pasture. "They can't even repair it anymore," said the chief, "and it would be extremely costly if we tried."