Police curtailing response to after-the-fact burglarly calls to save money

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08/25/2010

curtailedresponse1An Aug. 24 story from USA Today reports police nationwide are beginning to curtail response to certain types of calls they view as lower priority. The story doesn’t deal specifically with alarms or false alarms or the security industry, but it does list among the demoted call types burglary and theft.

The story mentions three municipalities (which, I guess, provide us with a large enough sampling to stand in for the whole country…?): Tulsa, Okla., Oakland, Calif. and Norton, Mass. Faithful readers of mine will recall I did a story on Oakland late last year.

The story quotes OPD media relations officer Holly Joshi expounding on Oakland’s new trimmed response guidelines:

If you come home to find your house burglarized and you call, we’re not coming.

… Well … that seems pretty clear. My question, though, is does this policy extend to any call that can not be verified to be reporting a crime in progress? I put out a call to Holly in the media relations office and also one to the OPD’s False Alarm Reduction Unit, headed up by Antone Hicks with whom I spoke last year.

Neither of those calls have yet been returned. I’ll follow up with an edit or a new post should I hear back.

To be fair I should mention the USA Today piece is not saying (and the police are not saying) that police are discontinuing response to higher priority calls:

Cutbacks in such places as Oakland, Tulsa and Norton, Mass. have forced police to tell residents to file their own reports — online or in writing — for break-ins and other lesser crimes.

The USA Today story addresses a problem I’ve heard from every police officer I’ve spoken to in the two years since I’ve been here: Police just don’t have the budgets to do everything they’re expected to do. So they’re looking at how they can cut costs, including layoffs and retirements (80 in Oakland and 110 in Tulsa just recently, according to USA Today), cutting services, and enforcing ordinances no matter what it takes.

Interesting times.