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Security industry lends a helping hand

 - 
Tuesday, February 15, 2011

I picked up a tweet today from ADS Security.

It said "ADS Corporate, Central Station & Nashville Sales went head-to-head in a @Soles4Souls shoe drive. Who secured the win?" Of course, I was intrigued and had to click.

I've been spotlighting security companies that do cool charity type stuff for a while. I've certainly covered ADS' efforts before.

And since they mentioned the central station throwing down against the other divisions, I had to check it out.

It appears that the central station, ADS Security corporate, and the Nashville sales office all formed teams and brought in as many shoes as possible for needy families. From ADS' Facebook page:

ADS kicked off the work week by counting the number of shoes that had been collected for a recent Soles 4 Souls shoe drive. Corporate, Central Station and Nashville Sales competed head-to-head for the title of “most shoes collected” and Central Station was a `shoe-in' with a total of 114 pairs. Combined, the groups were able to proudly donate 267 pairs of shoes! Congrats and thank you to everyone that participated.

Here's a pic from ADS' Facebook page that lists the final score of the ADS Shoe Drive Showdown:

267 pairs of shoes for the needy is pretty awesome. But what's awesomer (yes, that IS a word) is that the Team Central Station picked up 114 pairs! GO Central Station! Go Monitoring!! I love my beat.

You can follow ADS on Twitter and me on Twitter if you want to hear more.

Illinois fire-monitoring bill ignites protest

 - 
Friday, February 11, 2011

The industry is raising an alarm over a proposed new law introduced this week in the Illinois General Assembly that would allow public fire districts in the state to take control over fire alarm monitoring.

The bill, which the security industry in this state considers a job-killing, monopoly-creating measure because it would allow fire districts to mandate that everyone in the district use the district’s monitoring business, has been pending for a while now. When I wrote about a court case relating to this issue back in December, I noted then that the Illinois Electronic Security Association didn’t like the proposal. Now that HB 1301, entitled the “Fire District Antitrust Exemption,” has been formally introduced, IESA likes it even less. The group is urging Illinois alarm dealers and others involved in the industry to contact their elected representatives in Springfield to tell them how passage of the law could negatively impact their business.

“The primary motivation of the proposed bill is to take over an area of private business that took over a hundred years for private industry to build. It is a revenue booster for fire districts. It does not, however, improve response time or increase firefighter safety. As such, HB 1301 should be rejected,” the IESA said in a statement released yesterday.

Supporters of the bill argue that allowing a district to have complete authority over a wireless radio network or other network within the district is a safer and faster way to do fire monitoring.

But the IESA said that the bill “is not about public safety.” “

It explained that “districts currently have the authority to adopt and enforce rules consistent with the national fire codes (such as the National Fire Protection Association) that provide comprehensive coverage of alarm monitoring (e.g., what technologies are allowed, what is required for alarm monitoring),” the IESA said. “This legislation is designed to allow districts to monopolize alarm monitoring and arbitrarily exclude viable technologies in direct opposition of the national fire codes.”

IESA also said there will an upcoming Legislative Day in the state capitol, the date of which has yet to be set, on which industry members can talk in person with lawmakers about this bill.

I’ll be talking to Kevin Lehan, executive director of IESA, next week to learn more about this issue. Stay tuned.

 

Barnes: Do conditions today favor larger players?

 - 
Friday, February 11, 2011

Is there something about the market today that is favoring the big players in security over the smaller players? This is a question that Michael Barnes will address today, Feb. 11, on Day 2, of the Barnes Buchanan Security Alarm Conference, here in Palm Beach.

Today starts out with Mike’s “much anticipated” state of the industry address. Among several other topics, Mike is going to talk about data that shows that the share of RMR owned by the big guys has increased steadily over the past four years.

The big guys are the five largest players in the market and the top 95 companies. The small guys are the rest of the players in the market.

Traditionally, the small guys have had a slightly bigger share of the RMR pool. The reason, Mike surmises, is that they’re more nimble, they know their markets so well that they’re a worthy competitor to any of the “big guys” who try to sell in their market, and they’ve got customer service nailed.

In  2000, according to Barnes’ Associates data, the smaller players owned 49 percent of the RMR pool. That number grew steadily until 2006, when the small guys owned 58 percent of the RMR pool.

From 2000 to 2006, “there were a lot of acquisitions,” which is typically the way the big guys gain big chunks of RMR, Mike said. “But still, in those years, the small guys still outpaced the big guys.”

However, since ’06 the big guys have steadily gained back the share of RMR they lost in the six preceding years. In 2010, the share owned by the little guys is back to 49 percent, according to Barnes’ data. “Without a lot of acquisitions, the big guys beat out the small guys,” he said. 

There may be something about the market now “that favors larger, more sophisticated, capable companies,” he said.

Barnes was quick to say that he’s not predicting the death knell of the small companies... “far from it,” he said. Still, the data suggests there’s been a change, perhaps it has something to do with more internal discipline, more finely tuned customer service, more of an ease with newer technology. More on this and other trends after today’s address.

In the meantime, a few notes from Day 1 presentations.

Well first, a non-note, CapitalSource’s Bill Polk did not give his annual talk about the debt markets. “Too many tomatoes,” he told me.  Bill did, however, provide a debt market report on paper.

A few bullets from his paper: “Markets are focused on the good news (ie. U.S. corporate profits growth and margins, bank and corporate liquidity, low interest rates, lower commercial loans-and credit card delinquencies...) and are looking beyond the bad news (unemployment rates, factory orders backlog, suppliers delivery index, European sovereign debt challenges...) Most of all the markets are looking beyond “the elephant in the room—the need for federal government fiscal restraint,” he reports. And there continue to be problems at the state level as well. 

More bullets from his paper on the implications for the security industry: Polk reports that “strategic and financial buyer interest is strong across many subsectors and industry credits remain strong. Credit will be less expensive, but a focus on quality continues. Industry transactions will continue to feature club deals. Frothy loan market will translate into continued interest in placing debt capital into the security industry. Private equity is still under pressure to deploy capital... and is discovering security as an attractive investment.”

Sean Forrest, CFO of summer model company, Pinnacle Security, formerly of the PrivateBank and before that, worked with Tim Whall as CFO of HSM gave a talk yesterday.

Sean’s advice: “Invest heavily in your CFO,” to laughs, of course, but he said he’s given that advice often over the years, and never had anyone say it is bad advice.

Bankers need to understand the alarm business, but Forrest said security operators need to understand what bankers need from them as well “Anticipate their needs, and get them what they need to get you through the approval process.”

It’s a good idea to find some common ground with your competitors. He said Pinnacle and APX Alarm/now Vivant, have “helped each other out with licensing.”

While strategic vision for a company is “necessary and important, operating discipline is far more important in the success of an alarm company.”  Asked if he today he’s seeing “the most money ever chasing the industry?” Forrest answered: “absolutely, not just in debt, but in equity.”

Interest is driven by recent large deals. The big companies are buying, but the industry is not yet consolidated, he said.

“The middle market keeps redeveloping and reinventing itself, sometimes with the same teams.”

I’ve got more on yesterday’s New Deal panel, Technology panel and ADT’s John Koch’s address, which I’ll post later.

 

Future of Article 6-E and national central station licensing being discussed now

 - 
Thursday, February 10, 2011

So the NYBFAA's board of directors meeting is going on right now at ADI's Albany headquarters. Last time I spoke with NYBFAA executive director Dale Eller he told me that just prior to the Feb. 3 deadline for submission of written comments on Article 6-E there were 20 RSVPs to attend the meeting and open discussion forum. He also said just prior to the Feb. 3 deadline for written submissions there were a dozen concerned security industry members who had voiced their opinion in writing.

This promises to be a busy, boisterous and vocal day over in Albany!

I first wrote about this proposed legislation last year when USA Central Station's Bart Didden began making noise about it on the CSAA-administered ACCENT Listserv. I've since written a follow up story and done a bit of blogging about the issue and discussed it at ssnTVnews as well.

Regardless of how you feel about Bart or his stance, he sure did get the ball rolling.

One security industry exec to whom I spoke, and who requested anonymity, told me that in his 30 years in the industry he had never seen a bigger story than that into which Article 6-E was turning.

I spoke with early critics like John Doyle and with CSAA president Ed Bonifas, who at first said he felt CSAA had to remain neutral until a consensus was reached. It appears that consensus has occured.

I got a letter from Ed to NYBFAA president Joe Hayes on Feb. 8 in which Ed steps away from the middle and places CSAA's stance clearly in the anti 6-E camp.

Dear Joe:

As you know, the issue of the proposed NYBFAA Licensing legislation, known as '6-E,' has been discussed within the Central Station Alarm Association (CSAA) membership for the past several weeks. It is our understanding that the proposed legislation would require the licensing of central stations and operators within and outside of New York State.

The New York State licensing issue was discussed at length during our recent Long Range Planning meeting. After hearing both sides of the issue, a majority of those participating indicated that they are opposed to any further licensing that may add burdensome costs and add little to public benefit.

The issue was then referred to the CSAA Board of Directors, who voted nearly unanimously not to support the proposed legislation in its current form.

The view of most CSAA members with whom we have discussed this issue is that while licensing reciprocity is something we would all like to see, addressing it on a state-by-state basis would only create more impediments, costs and regulatory requirements than are necessary. CSAA believes that this issue should be addressed instead at the federal level.

We hope that you will express our opposition to this proposed legislation to your members. You have received numerous individual letters from our membership and others to the same effect. Our official position on this matter represents the will not only of our board and members, but also numerous non-members in the central station industry who have communicated their concerns to us about the proposed New York State licensing legislation.

Sincerely,

Ed Bonifas, CSAA president

Really, Ed isn't saying much of anything new. He said, when I spoke with him that he felt the issue should be tackled on a national level rather than a state-by-state approach, but then said CSAA was neurtal... Really, saying that state-by-state is the wrong way to go, is anti-Article 6-E.

I also picked up some chatter about 6-E over at Ken Kirschenbaum's newsletter. Mike from CSS asked Joe Hayes through the newsletter "I have read the proposed law (several times).  Can you tell me who decided to bring this issue to Ex, Senator Foleys Office? Who were the main players in writing this proposal?" To Mike, I can tell you that I found after speaking with both the Article 6-E Review Committee and the ex-senator's office a discrepancy about where the proposed legislation came from. Each party said the other originated the proposed legislation. You can read about that in the first story I wrote on 6-E, as well as in its follow up.

Also via Ken's newsletter, Danny Dunson from Direct Alarm in Griffin, Ga. gives a few very good reasons why the legislation is unneeded.

Dear Mr. Hayes and board members,

I would like to express opposition to the proposed legislation, known as 6E, which would require state licensing of Central Monitoring Stations in New York.   Though Direct Alarm does not do business in the state of New York,  we are against any unwanted legislation that may set a precedent for other states to follow.  While the proposed legislation may have good intentions behind it, the legislation is unnecessary for the good or  betterment of the electronic security industry or its consumers. The following are a couple of reasons that we feel make the legislation unnecessary.

Central Stations are already governed by their clients.

Electronic security companies demand quality from the central station that they use so that their end-users are satisfied with service and response. A few of the things that electronic security companies demand from their central stations are: a UUFX Underwriter's Laboratories (UL) listing, a Factory Mutual (FM) approval, and a CSAA certification.

Government is not competent enough to provide a service to this industry.

Professionals at Underwriter's Laboratories, Factory Mutual, and CSAA have spent decades researching the industry in order to provide ample, precise, and stringent standards and requirements which Central Monitoring Stations use to govern themselves. In no way will the government of the state of New York be able to provide a positive or useful service to the electronic security industry or the central station industry in the face of what is already present and changes daily.

Thank you for considering our firm stance on the proposed legislation 6E. I hope that you will govern yourselves accordingly and do what is best for the industry and its consumers and do away with this proposal and all that bear similarity to it.

Regardless of whether you're pro or con or have no opinion either way, this is looking like a seminal event in the industry, if it can get enough people talking and enough momentum to address the issue on a national level. I'll continue to cover this story as it develops.

I spoke with Doyle Security president John Doyle late yesterday. He was leaving the NYBFAA meeting in Albany. He seemed pleased with how the meeting had gone:

"There was a great turnout at the meeting of members and guests. I was just pleased that they had this meeting. It was well organized and everyone got to say what they wanted to say. I feel like I was listened to and I feel it was a healthy airing of thoughts and opinions."

John also said that CSAA’s message arguing the issue of state licensing/reciprocity should be handled on a national level did get through. Again, I'll have more as it becomes available...

Securing the food supply

 - 
Thursday, February 10, 2011

It’s one of those things I really, really don't like to think about—the idea that our food or water supply could be a terrorist target. Maybe that's because the idea of actually protecting the food supply seems so daunting. Protecting miles and miles of wide open farmland? How do you do that? Also, further along in the chain, the idea that the FDA and other government officials are not keeping a very, very close eye on food production (or have had the resources cut so they can't keep a good eye on things) and processing is just plain gross.

Remember Upton Sinclair's 'The Jungle'? 

Our sister publication, Security Director News, has done some reporting on the Food Modernization Act, which President Obama signed into law last month. And, the other day (as we were shipping off our March issue), a release popped up in my inbox about ADT’s work with food manufacturers.

From the release: “As part of the food safety legislation, food manufacturers and suppliers will be required to identify potential problem areas that might affect the safety of their products and outline ways to prevent or circumvent those areas of concern.  ADT, the leader in electronic security solutions, is working with food manufacturers to meet these new regulations by providing security tools and solutions that food suppliers and manufacturers can use to help keep their products safe and untainted.”

Hank Monaco, vice president of commercial marketing for ADT, is quoted as saying that the company’s has been working with “food manufacturers and suppliers on security for a number of years and have been a leader in the development of many of the food defense strategies and solutions used today ... Now that the mandates have been signed into law we believe we can use our expertise and knowledge to help others in the food industry achieve the same high levels of security and safety.”

ADT is working with” Arrowsight, a provider of remote video auditing services and software, and is using it in the Huntsville (Ala.) Food Defense Demo Lab to show food manufacturers and people in the industry new technologies and solutions in a real-world setting and how they can help keep the food supply chain safe and secure from sabotage.”

Interestiing, I've got a call into ADT to find out more.

On a much lighter aside, I just looked at an FDA link to information about the bill. Did you know that the FDA commissioner’s name is Dr. Hamburg?

 

Sale of beach house to help pay back McGinn, Smith investors

 - 
Wednesday, February 9, 2011

This month brings a new development in the court case against Timothy McGinn and David L. Smith, two New York security alarm industry investors the SEC has charged with defrauding investors of more than $80 million in a Ponzi scheme. On Feb. 1, a judge ruled that a vacation home in Vero Beach, Fla. that Smith and his wife bought 10 years ago be sold to help benefit investors.

It turns out the monthly mortgage of $6,188 on the home, worth an estimated $1.7 million to $1.9 million, hasn’t been paid since April of last year, when the SEC filed charges against McGinn and Smith and their assets were frozen, according to the judge’s order. The two were principals of McGinn, Smith & Co., an Albany-based investment firm that conducted investment dealings in the alarm industry. The SEC contends that from 2003 to 2009, the pair diverted funds into financially troubled entities and also into their own pockets, and to pay for exotic dancers on McGinn’s You Only Live Once cruise ship business.

Various other expenses for the Smith home at Orchid Point Way have gone unpaid and upkeep hasn’t taken place, according to the ruling by Magistrate Judge David Homer in U.S. District Court in the Northern District of New York.

In his order, the judge said those included landscaping at $475/month; pest control at $100/month; pool cleaning at $86/month; utilities at $530/month; insurance at $796/month; taxes of $1,875/month; monthly dues of $1,375, and various additional assessments totaling $1,060. Including the mortgage payment, the monthly costs for the house exceed $13,000, the judge said.

The judge wrote he was concerned that the value of the property could diminish with the place not being kept up. The judge said the mortgage holder also might foreclose on it because the mortgage isn’t being paid. He ordered the sale of the property “to halt the diminishment of its value and to realize the greatest possible return.”

Although Smith and his wife, Lynn, bought the house together in 2001 as a second vacation home, the property in 2009 was transferred into the name of Lynn Smith alone, the judge noted. Lynn Smith plans to seek a stay on the sale while she appeals the judge’s decision, according to court records.

Another place that might be a source of assets for investors is a security company that McGinn, Smith & Co. ran called Alarm Traders, according to a recent blog item in the Albany Times Union newspaper.

That paper reported that Alarm Traders, a buyer and seller of alarm monitoring accounts to security companies, remains operating and owns thousands of contracts. The court-appointed receiver overseeing McGinn's and Smith's assets said it was possible that company could be sold to help pay back investors, according to the paper.

In another recent ruling in the case, Judge Homer found McGinn, who served as CEO of IASG from 2003 to 2006, in contempt of court for his involvement in a new investment venture started this past summer. The judge said the new venture, Security Alarm Credit, appeared "remarkably similar" to the prior offerings that got McGinn in trouble with the SEC.

 

 

ESX announces keynoter for 2011 show in Charlotte

 - 
Wednesday, February 9, 2011

ESX on Tuesday, Feb. 8 announced its keynote speaker for ESX 2011. ESX 2010  in Pittsburgh introduced me not only to Verizon sniffing around security (and we all know how that story played out...), but to football great Rocky Bleier, as well. Seriously, I'm not a sports guy, so I'd never heard of him, but I was impressed with his presence, humor and ability to relate his old football yarns to business intelligence.

Perhaps hoping to cash in on that same magic formula from 2010, this year, ESX has announced football coach and NASCAR team owner Joe Gibbs as its keynoter for the show in Charlotte, N.C. from June 6-10.

From the ESX release:

This former NFL football coach and NASCAR Championship team owner, is well known for his work ethic, transforming the average NFC Washington Redskins team into Super Bowl titans and taking drivers Bobby Labonte and Tony Stewart to the finish line with NASCAR Cup Series Championships.

'I think all industries require solid relationships and hard work to thrive. I believe very strongly in these core values and I think many people connect with that message," said Joe Gibbs. "I'm looking forward to sharing my story at ESX.'

This game plan constructing legend will address security integration and monitoring companies as they revitalize their own profitable business plans at the only show organized exclusively for their needs.

It's a neat tactic to take someone who acts kind of as a Rosetta Stone to explain business principals in an atypical yet not uncommon language.

It will be interesting to attend the keynote address and see how it compares to last year.

ESX chair and dedicated security luminary George DeMarco seems excited about the choice of keynoter.

I am thrilled that Joe will be with us, delivering his perspective on the world of football, NASCAR and life outside of sports. He has inspired NFL football teams and NASCAR drivers alike. I believe his leadership skills and unique blend of energy and experience will take this year's keynote address to an entirely new level.

Gibbs’ keynote address luncheon will be held at the Charlotte Convention Center on Wednesday, Jun. 8 at 11:45 a.m.

Don't forget to register for ESX ASAP. It's an important show and I hope to see you there.

Breen on ADT's numbers, Pulse, & the telco incursion

 - 
Thursday, February 3, 2011

ADT's parent, Tyco reported its earnings on Jan. 27 and "beat Street estimates." Here's a nice tight synopsis from Rueters:

Tyco International Ltd's quarterly earnings more than doubled, beating Wall Street expectations amid sharply higher profits at the industrial conglomerate's security business, which includes the former ADT Worldwide service.
Net earnings rose to $659 million, or $1.34 per share, in the first quarter ended December 24, from $302 million, or 63 cents per share, a year earlier.
Earnings from continuing operations before special items were 75 cents per share, 7 cents ahead of analysts' estimates, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S. That marked the 10th consecutive quarter that Tyco beat Wall Street forecasts.
Revenue rose 5 percent to $4.38 billion, slightly ahead of forecasts of $4.34 billion.
Sales in Tyco's biggest segment, security solutions, rose 10 percent, helped by increased demand from commercial customers. The segment was the only one to increase operating income or margins.

During the subsequent earnings call, Tyco CEO Breen noted that ADT's commercial orders were "surprisingly positive ... double-digit in all regions." And on the fire side,  SimplexGrinnell’s orders were up 15 percent, he said.  In both cases, the increase is not due to new construction (not surprisingly) but to an increase in retrofits and upgrades he said. “People are upgrading their electronic panels because there's a lot of new features and software capability. You know, technology, it's got a five year life cycle to it, so in the last three years no one's done anything ... [now, it’s] a lot of retrofit and upgrades."

 

On ADT’s new interactive product, called Pulse,   Breen said ADT is signing up customers they believe may not have signed up for a traditional security account. Pulse is currently being sold by ADT's direct sales team now, and Breen said "about 15% of our customers are taking Pulse, and about 85% of them are taking the first tier of the package." After more dealer training, those numbers will pick up, he surmised.

Breen had some interesting comments on the telco incursion into the space. He is not worried. In fact, he thinks it will result in more advertising, which  will "lift all boats" and if anyone suffers it will be the smaller companies rather than a giant like ADT. When Brink's Home Security changed its name to Broadview and hit the airwaves with its new commercials, ADT picked up business, he said. He predicts the same effect from other telcos and cable companies entering the business. 

While, he said, it won't happen immediately, "I think if a couple of these cable guys or phone guys markets more security than they are now, I think over time it's at the expense of the smaller, local players and the big, branded players will do very, very well in that environment. You have to remember that only 19-20% of the homes in North America are penetrated with security. My belief, and again this is multiple years, is that this is about a 40% penetrated service and I do think interactivity helps that percentage get there eventually because to a question earlier I think more people are going to be attracted to the service because of the opportunity to do more things. We have 25% North America market share with thousands of others having the other 75%. I've always been a believer this industry will consolidate. If it consolidates around a few players, I think we do very, very well in that environment. I would also point out that this is not that easy to do for everybody because one of the reasons the local, little player actually does well is that they have a sales force like we have a sales force. Between our dealers and our direct sales team, we have almost 9,000 sales people in North America, and 90% of the sales that we close we sit in the home with the homeowner to close the sale. It’s not like cable, it's not like getting a phone service, where it's an automatic "you're going to get it." It's a utility. This you have to go in and market it. So there's a lot of nuances here and I think we do very well in that environment."

The direct quotes above are courtesty of SeekingAlpha.com

CSAA and IAFC do some myth busting

 - 
Thursday, February 3, 2011

The Central Station Alarm Association worked with the International Association of Fire Chiefs over the past year as the IAFC came up with some proposed NFPA code changes to combat the problem of frequent false alarms in commercial facilities. Now the two groups are fighting claims they’re “in bed” together and that the proposals are dangerous.

Since the IAFC submitted the proposed changes to NFPA 72 in the fall, there has been “considerable misinformation and distortion of the facts at issue,” according to a statement issued by the CSAA in January. That’s why the CSAA is referring the industry to a fact sheet produced by the IAFC to counteract what that group describes as “myths” regarding the proposals. The groups are also urging a national-level discussion on the issue.

The fact sheet, which can be found at www.IAFC.org, says that among the untruths are claims that a proposed change for a 90-second verification delay is dangerous and that the IAFC is “in bed” with the CSAA because the alarm industry will gain from the changes.

But the IAFC says the 90-second validation delay, for which an AHJ can opt out if it determines it cannot accept such a wait, actually would add to the safety of the public and responders if implemented properly.

The group says such a change would be identical to existing alarm codes for residential properties, where the IAFC says the majority of fire deaths actually occur because homes generally don’t have the fire protections found in commercial facilities.

Also, the IAFC says, a 90-second notification delay to avoid sending responders out to chase a false commercial fire alarm is safer.

“Abandoning a response area for such a low statistical probability (that a false alarm is a real emergency) while medical and other fire responses require resources at a higher percentage actually results in lower reliability and longer response times to statistically higher risk and demand events,” the IAFC states.

As for being “in bed” together, the IAFC strongly refutes that claim in its fact sheet.

“The IAFC knows that partnering with industry to create knowledgeable and realistic solutions benefits the fire and emergency service,” the group said.

It added: “The goal in our relationship with CSAA is not to build solutions that benefit either them or us, but build a better way of working together for the benefit of the fire and emergency service. Language was carefully crafted to ensure that the proposal offered more flexibility for fire chiefs in determining what is best for their community. There are no requirements in these proposals that would directly benefit central station alarm providers over the fire service.  In fact, the proposals would put additional burden and responsibility on those monitoring and maintaining commercial alarm systems.”

I’ll be talking more to the CSAA about this issue and why it’s so important for the industry, as well as the status of the proposed changes … stay tuned to our web site!

 

 

Article 6-E comment deadline is here--get your voice heard!

 - 
Thursday, February 3, 2011

I've been doing a lot of coverage of Article 6-E. I first wrote about it last year, when it starting causing a stir among users of the ACCENT listserv. I followed the initital story up with another story and a blog post and an edition of ssnTVnews.

Last time I wrote about 6-E I told you that the NYBFAA was looking for input and would hold a discussion forum at its board of directors meeting on Feb. 10. They asked interested attendees to RSVP and said if you couldn't make it, your voice could still be heard by submitting your opinion in writing by the deadling... which is today.

Dale Eller, executive director of the NYBFAA told me that interest was pretty high so far.

Currently, the NYBFAA is preparing to hear arguments pro- and con- at its Feb. 10 board of directors meeting. Dale said that as of the Feb. 3 deadline for submission of written comments on Article 6-E there were 20 RSVPs to attend the Feb. 10 board of directors meeting and open discussion forum. He also said right now there were a dozen concerned security industry members who had voiced their opinion to him in writing.

“The best thing that has come from this experience is the fact that it got everyone talking about what was best for the industry,” Dale told me. “And how everyone could work together proactively to benefit the consumer, public safety and the dealers and monitoring companies.”

Now, most recently over the weekend, I got another letter to add to the ones I've received from Russ MacDonnell at Rapid Response and John Doyle at Doyle Security. This letter was from Jim McMullen at C.O.P.S. Monitoring. They've got four central stations now, and what that means--especially with their technique of active load sharing--is that if 6-E gets passed, they may have to license every single central station operator in all four centrals in the state of New York. Obviously not something that's that cost effective.

From the lettter:

As a general statement, we believe that the services our industry provides are of principal importance to consumers and C.O.P.S. supports all relevant and meaningful regulatory efforts that effectively protect their best interests. In reading the proposed language in article 6E, it is evident to me that the objectives of the legislative review committee are also of this intent and we appreciate your position.

Our experience with state level licensing has been nothing short of interesting. As a national monitoring company, we have amassed a great deal of knowledge from every state that requires licensing. We have encountered strenuous compliance requirements, testing material devoid of any monitoring-related materials, and mandates that we run criminal background checks for our employees in states 3,000 miles away from their homes. The sum of this experience has helped us realize that, even with good intentions, adopted standards do not necessarily protect the consumer the way they intended - nor in a way that even truly makes sense.

With that being said, it is the position of C.O.P.S. Monitoring that alarm dispatcher licensing should be pursued at the national level and not handled on a state-by-state basis. It is on this front that we plan to focus our greatest resources. I am hopeful that the potential exists to make significant progress on this endeavor in the coming months. We respectfully believe that a national standard for dispatchers that focuses on monitoring-related details would ultimately be in the best interests of all concerned parties – including consumers. We would like to see what unfolds by the end of this year resulting from our national efforts before putting any further energy into pursuing implementation of this particular bill.

CSAA president Ed Bonifas has also said that he feels the best route to take is for the industry to focus its energies on a national bill, rather than fight the battle out state-by-state.

Whatever your opinion, fire off an email to Dale Eller over at NYBFAA and get your voice heard.

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