Texas House Bill 2304 is just wrong

SSN Staff  - 
Wednesday, June 1, 2005

While the United States is at war, anticipating serious homeland security needs, in addition to normal public safety needs, the alarm security industry is attempting to divert first responders, that is police departments throughout all of Texas, from their public duty, to a private duty, for totally self-serving purposes. This may be hypocrisy at its highest level.
On a national level, the alarm security industry is seeking high visibility as an important part of homeland security, while at the same time, attempting to legislate at a state level, that police respond first to their alarm signals, of which nearly 100 percent are false, thus provide near zero public good. Not only can it be unlawful, it is just wrong.
In every community, throughout all of the United States, there is not any mandate, or responsibility, for public police to respond to private alarm systems. Monitored alarm systems are private contracts between the alarm user and the alarm provider, and the industry has no right to contract with alarm users to receive public police response to unknown alarm signals. Many alarm companies are even billing alarm users for services provided free by the public police. It is so far out of control that a recent Oregon court said that public response to private alarms will not even justify a search of the alarmed private property.
How did this matter get so far out of control? Several decades ago, the police extended a courtesy, to a then very small alarm industry, to respond to alarms that were "verified" by private responders. The industry grew rapidly, now 30 million systems; and the false alarm problem grew even faster. Private responders could not keep up with the false alarms, so the industry stopped private response and left the total response burden to the police. Sadly, the industry had very little incentive to solve false alarms...the rest is history.
Individual cities all across the country are now demanding that alarm companies, not alarm users, and not taxpayers, bear the full responsibility for this private service. The attempt in Texas to legislate public police response for private alarms is just wrong.
Lee Jones
Support Services Group
Naples, Fla.