Apprehension vs. deterrence… or are they one in the same?

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08/11/2010

deterrenceI wrote a story recently on Sonitrol Security (AKA Kimberlite) and their impressive apprehension numbers for the month of July.

I got a comment on the story from Jose Chavarria (Iverify?). He asked the very good question what the true measure of success was: apprehending people or deterring crime in the first place. A very good question and insightful comment, and one I attempted to address in through the same medium (the comment box at the bottom of the story). Unfortunately for me, I tend to really bring the word count at times, and was told in no uncertain terms that my comment on Jose’s comment was too long. So I decided to take to the blog.

Jose writes:

“Is apprehension really the success or is deterrence the real measure?”

As I said, good question. Here’s the reply I’d prepared and was unable to upload through the comments section:

Hey Jose,

Thanks for the read and the comment. You bring up a valid point, and one that, I admit, I did not address overtly in the story. However, Tom, Marcos and I did discuss deterrence briefly in our interview. One of Tom’s points was that apprehensions lead to deterrence. From our talk:

“At the end of the day, the best way to deter crime is to arrest people, because word gets out,” Tom said. “2003, Modesto City schools had 49 campuses and we installed that and we apprehended 130 people the first year. They’d had another alarm company for 20 years prior to us that was not a verified alarm system company and they’d apprehended zero in 20 years. We apprehended 130 that first year and roughly a comparable number the second year and then it started falling off. And we find that whenever we go into a new school district, it takes a little while, but the word gets out and people stop trying. So apprehensions now at Modesto–we’re six years into that relationship–are down to half that number of apprehensions and I think that’s from the deterrence of having the Sonitrol system in there and the Sonitrol stickers in sight. So verification is the key to apprehension–and to deterrence.”

Again, Jose, thank you for continuing the discussion.

Where do you stand? Do you think verification makes the difference? Do you think the threat of apprehension (yard signs, stickers) is enough (As I addressed in an earlier blog post, many people DO argue that the system itself is unnecessary, or at least vaguely superfluous) or does it take more (like bustin’ some perp and hauling him away in a cruiser). Does Sonitrol’s Tom Patterson have a point? Does word get out… the record seems to say yes. However, a recent story from SSN shows that crime over all recently has been down… so who can say. I’m interested in your opinion.

Comments

<p class="comment_time">August 11th, 2010 at 3:41 pm</p>
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<p>Hey Steve,</p>
<p>As always, thanks for dropping by and contributing. Actually, Tom addressed something along those very lines in the interview as well. Let me see if I can find it in my notes. &ldquo;I think that traditional alarm people don&rsquo;t necessarily look at their job as apprehending,&rdquo; Patterson said &ldquo;They think it&rsquo;s to sound a bell and scare people away. It&rsquo;s business model thing.&rdquo; Tom&rsquo;s point was that verified aren&rsquo;t necessarily better, they&rsquo;re just a different biz model. It depends on what your aim is.</p>
<p>Thanks you guys for chiming in.</p>
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<p class="comment_author">August 11th, 2010 at 1:49 pm</p>
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<p>[...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Sonitrol Pacific, Daniel Gelinas. Daniel Gelinas said: Apprehension the name of the game? Do arrests lead to crime deterrence? Monitor This! carries on the discussion: <a href="http://bit.ly/a02vLP" rel="nofollow">http://bit.ly/a02vLP</a> [...]</p>
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<p class="comment_time">August 11th, 2010 at 12:20 pm</p>
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<p>Maybe crime is down because the crims can&rsquo;t afford to leave their homes. Maybe they are worried about a double dip recession and trying to make savings like the rest of us.</p>
<p>&hellip;but seriously, I see verification as desireable but not essential. Sometimes the yard sign does the job and sometimes a loud siren is enough to scare intruders away. I think very few, if any, alarm subscribers expect apprehension but those expectations rise when you add video to the equation.</p>
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<p class="comment_author">August 11th, 2010 at 11:00 am</p>
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<p>Makes sense to me, Pam! Thanks for joining in the discussion.</p>
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<p class="comment_author">August 11th, 2010 at 10:54 am</p>
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<p>I agree it&rsquo;s a really interesting question and, of course, successful deterrence is difficult to quantify. Prevention and deterrence are the priority of every reputable electronic security provider. However, if simply having a system (or door/window decals and yard signs) were enough, then the Sonitrol systems wouldn&rsquo;t be helping police catch so many suspects. I think many burglars bank on slow response times from alarm companies and police. This makes fast and accurate verification of alarms more important.Prevent, prevent, prevent, but when you can&rsquo;t prevent, verify, dispatch and apprehend.</p>
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