Verified response study draws criticism

Thursday, July 6, 2006

BERWYN, Pa.--After Sonitrol last week released a verified response white paper to share with police departments, the Security Industry Alarm Coalition, with the support of the NBFAA and others, moved quickly to express concerns. SIAC distributed a statement that said verified response does not reduce crime and alternatives such as enhanced call verification or control panels using the CP-01 standard are more effective to resolve false-alarm issues.
The "Verified Response: Lessons Learned, a Survey of 20 Police Departments, across North America with Verified Response Policies" paper from Sonitrol examined 20 cities dotted throughout the United States and Canada that have had verified response policies in place for more than a year.
According to the study, respondents interviewed were "able to reduce their dispatch rate by an average of 72 percent and burglary rates declined in the majority of the jurisdictions with this policy in pace for more than a year."
The SIAC statement said the study examines an "outdated concept that has been rejected by the vast majority of the law enforcement community." Typically, law enforcement gravitate to good solutions that solve a problem for them, said Stan Martin, executive director of SIAC, in an interview. "They don't want to reinvent the wheel."
However, Alex Gellman, president and chief operating officer at Sonitrol, noticed in the last two years that verified response has picked up momentum as cities such as Dallas and Milwaukee have adopted varied response polices and ordinances. Gellman said that Sonitrol only commissioned the study and the purpose of the paper is to facilitate the sharing of information between cities. "Cities interested in going verified can have feedback from other cities about their experience with it. We wanted to offer up a little more information about what verified response is. Why did they [cities] go verified? What else did they try? How did it work? What other things did they do?"
SIAC's goal is to also work to educate law enforcement on the alternatives to solving alarm issues. Adding that he believes technology has made verified response outdated, "We have not seen verified response move forward at all in the last six years," Martin said.
"It's a shame that we have an entire industry working together and our focus is reducing dispatches, not promoting non-response for the purchase of increasing market share," Martin said. "They have a good business model, why mess with it?"
When asked about the industry's reaction to the white paper, Gellman said, "We are not surprised with their reaction. That has been consistent city by city. When municipalities and police propose a verified rule, the industry as whole typically opposes."

See Security Systems News' August issue for more on verified response.