Going video: New partnership links alarm industry, police, insurers
ST. PAUL, Minn.—What may have seemed like a pipe dream to many in the security industry a few years ago—getting alarm companies and law enforcement to work together, then adding the insurance industry to the alliance—is now reality with the Partnership for Priority Video Alarm Response.
The new public/private endeavor brings together all of the stakeholders in property crime to reduce losses and increase arrests through the use of video intrusion alarms. Among the participants are the National Sheriffs Association and the National Insurance Crime Bureau, with members of both groups and the alarm industry serving on the PPVAR's board of directors.
Getting alarm companies, police and insurers onto the same page has been a longtime goal of Keith Jentoft, coordinator for the partnership and president of RSI Video Technologies.
"We are beginning to have credible data with encouraging results of arrest rates hundreds of times what is found with traditional alarms," Jentoft said. "We have been working with many alarm companies, law enforcement and PSAPs, as well as insurers who ultimately pay the bill for property crime. This partnership will help gather real-world examples of what is working best for all the stakeholders."
Committees created within the PPVAR will report to the board of directors with recommendations for best practices. Ultimately, the group would like to work with an official standards organization like the Central Station Alarm Association to give the guidelines added weight.
Third-party monitoring companies that have joined the partnership and have designated representatives include CMS (Donald Young), UCC (Teresa Gonzales), Rapid Response (Morgan Hertel), Emergency 24 (Patrick Devereaux), Universal Monitoring (Clayton Kemp) and Acadian (Kenny Savoie). Don Young, CIO of Protection 1, and Steve Walker, VP of customer service centers for Stanley Convergent Security Solutions, will represent the alarm industry on the board of directors.
On the law enforcement side, the Los Angeles County Sheriffs Department—the second-largest police organization in the country—is among the prominent participants. The department has designated Lt. John Gannon as its representative.
Gannon said that while the LASD is relatively new to handling video alarm calls, the results have been impressive. Out of 21 video alarms that the department responded to in the last six months of 2011, four resulted in arrests. The 19 percent arrest rate compares with 0.08 percent when responding to traditional audible burglary alarms.
“Our primary mode of connection to the alarm company or monitoring center is through email,” he said in regard to video verification. “We set it up where they send us a feed or a freeze-frame capture, or they can send us a link. They call us and tell us it’s coming and we watch for the email.”
Gannon said the LASD would like to see more people using video alarms to increase arrests and reduce false dispatches, a longtime point of contention between the alarm industry and police. But the effectiveness of video technology and its support by law enforcement are not well known, he said.
“Our hope is that there is going to be a big success that we can market, a big media release, but it just hasn’t happened yet,” Gannon said. “That’s how it works. Once you see a couple of these big successes on the news, people going to jail, then that’s going to get people’s attention.”
An increase in arrests means fewer property claims, which in turn leads to lower insurance rates for property owners, Jentoft said. Insurers are also offering discounts to consumers who install video alarms.
“Law enforcement is on board with this with the [alarm] industry, and insurers see it as a very effective way of combating crime and reducing losses,” he said. “It’s a win for all of the stakeholders.”