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Licensing of central station operators mulled in New York

Licensing of central station operators mulled in New York

ALBANY, N.Y.—There's legislation in the works here that, if passed, would require all New York central station operators to be licensed. Some industry insiders, such as CIA Security president John Lombardi, believe there's merit in this type of legislation. But others, including Bart Didden of USA Central Station, believe this legislation is a bad idea.

The proposed legislation, called Article 6-E, first appeared last fall. It was developed by outgoing New York Sen. Brian Foley and the 6-E Legislative Review Committee—which included Lombardi, Electronix Systems' president Ron Petrarca, Amherst Alarm CEO Tim Creenan, Alarm Tech Central Service president Robert Spetta, and All Star Electronic Systems vice president Richard Talbot.

Foley's deputy chief of staff Krystyna Baumgartner explained to Security Systems News that Foley “was approached by a local security industry group in September or October of last year with [the idea for this legislation.]” She said Foley was given “the final language that they wanted in August of this year, but the [legislative] session was already over for us, so it wasn't something that was ever formalized.”

Lombardi said the current version of 6-E develops model legislation that builds a foundation for other states faced with similar issues of vetting central station employees. Licensing of central stations in New York would go a long way toward achieving reciprocity with the 17 other states that have similar licensing legislation in place, he said.

The CSAA has a licensing reciprocity standard for alarm monitoring organizations that aims to aid government bodies in developing reciprocity-friendly licensing requirements.

Bart Didden has been a vocal critic of the 6-E Legislative Review Committee's work.

“This is trying to regulate central station companies,” he said. “The participants in this non-inclusive committee are under a complete falsehood if they think they've created something that will overcome other states' apprehension to reciprocity � If it was their intention to create something that would benefit the industry, you'd think they would have called Rapid or Affiliated or Nationwide or USA, which are the predominant contract central stations in New York State, but they didn't include any of those.”

In response to critics of the committee's efforts, Lombardi said he was unconcerned.

“This proposed legislation has been around since January. It was introduced to the associations in March,” Lombardi said. “In May or June it was posted on our web site for the whole world to see and the total feedback we got back was 'We don't want more regulation in our lives.'”

Didden said there have been opponents to the push to get Article 6-E championed in the New York Senate.

“They have gotten input that they did not want to hear,” Didden said. “I have voiced my opinion numerous times and they don't like it, so they've chosen to ignore it. I think they're just trying to regulate competition by creating additional, artificial business barriers.”

So what's in store for 6-E going forward?

Well, its legislative champion in Albany, Sen. Foley, was not reelected in November. An aide to Foley said Foley's successor may or may not choose to take up any one of Foley's causes or the 6-E Review Committee could attempt to move on to other possibilities.

Lombardi said he's amazed “that we had someone pushing this and working with us and no one in the industry was interested. Now that proponent is gone and we're fighting a battle that may never come to pass.”

Right now, said Lombardi, “what we've got is a model law that we think is good, but we don't have a champion.”

So, 6-E's future in Albany is uncertain, but Lombardi will be talking about 6-E to an industry group in Washington next week. Lombardi said he's accepted an invitation from the Alarm Industry Communications Committee to give an informational presentation on Article 6-E at its Dec. 7 meeting.



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