Own a City program takes off, eyed by others

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Sunday, December 1, 2002

SPOKANE, Wash. - A statewide program here designed to foster a better relationship between the alarm industry and local police and fire officials is now being considered for adoption by other states and the National Burglar & Fire Alarm Association.
The program, called Own a City, was started by the Washington Burglar & Fire Alarm Association nearly a year ago. Since then it has gained national and state attention.

The NBFAA is expected to talk about the program at its meeting in March, a follow-up to discussions this fall on how it may adopt the program.

And other states, such as Texas, Connecticut and Massachusetts are looking at how they can incorporate the campaign into their programs.

"This program has heightened the communication between the industry and the community," said Howard Rich-ardson, president of the Washington BFAA and the creator of the program.

Richardson came up with the idea after trying to tackle the state's false alarm program through a committee effort. When that did not work, he decided to approach the issue with association members volunteering to adopt a city, and keep in contact with city officials on a weekly basis.

The plan worked and today the Washington BFAA has 27 volunteers covering 47 cities and one on one contact with local authorities on a weekly basis.

"What they do is bring back to the association any issues that need to be dealt with as an industry or association, or any news," said Richardson.

In at least one instance, the association was able to help a city put together an alarm school for false alarm offenders. And, Richardson said the association is now helping approximately 14 municipalities draft new false alarm ordinances, using NBFAA's model ordinance as a draft, and with alarm industry representation.

"We're able to go on the front end and give them some guidelines," he said.

Kathleen Schraufnagel, past president of the North Texas Alarm Association, said her association is looking at the Own a City campaign and may adopt a similar program in the coming months but under a different name.

"This is just exactly what we need to be doing in regard to being more proactive and working with law enforcement," explain-ed Schraufnagel.

On the national front, the Own a City campaign is part of the NBFAA's goal to adopt programs that bring together law enforcement, the alarm industry and end users, said Dave Johnson, director of government affairs for the NBFAA.

"Cooperative efforts like Own a City are so beneficial," said Johnson. "We have to figure out how to build those into other areas."