Police say 'no' to receivers

Friday, December 1, 2006

BOW, N.H.--On Dec. 1, the Bow, N.H., police department will join many other municipalities around the country as it moves to a commercial monitoring requirement for its citizens and businesses. The police department is planning to switch off its alarm monitoring system, a model 6000 Omega alarm digital receiver, for good on that day "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 much smaller. "We aren't even touching the tip of the iceberg to what central alarm companies can provide," said Jaran.
Bob Bitton, president of Supreme Security Systems in Union, N.J., echoes that sentiment: "In general, I believe alarm panels in police stations are pretty much a thing of the past. A central station connect can be less expensive and can transmit more data--you can verify the alarm and determine zones. When the police are monitoring, they only know there's been an alarm."
Supreme Security Systems is the largest independent provider of electronic security systems in N.J., and has been in business for more than 75 years. Over the course of his career in this family business, Bitton has seen a lot of changes. "In New Jersey going way back, prior to the '70s, if we wanted to connect to the police department, every alarm company would go into the police station and put our systems on the wall. You can imagine the mess in some of the police stations."
In Bow's case, Chief Jaran said that "over the years, alarm companies that would hook up into our alarm panel wouldn't necessarily notify us," said the chief.
Steve Mango, secretary of the New Hampshire Alarm Association and vice president of Mango Security Systems in Franklin, N.H., 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. Although Bitton said that in some areas around the country, he's heard of police and fire departments taking alarm monitoring on as a profitable business, in his state currently Supreme Security Systems is left with only six police panels and less than 200 connections total. "Today, when one panel is down to less than 10 connections, we talk to the chief and we remove it," said Bitton. "This is something we've been doing in N.J. for 30 years."