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  • Interaction with Law Enforcement

    I registered a while back, but mostly just lurking until now. I am a police officer in a major US city. I may be taking over a False Alarm position where I would be responsible for billing companies, determining non response etc. One of the main goals of this new position would be to reduce false alarms (mostly residential, but some commercial). Much hgher fines don't seem to have made a huge impact, and the non response criteria is a bit stringent in my mind.

    If I get this poition, I will be dealing with alarm companies on a regular basis. So my question to all of you is - What do most cops not know about alarms/alarm companies that we should know and what would you do to reduce false alarms?

    Thanks for your input. If this is the wrong sub-forum, I apologize and and ask the moderator to move it.
    sigpic"The further removed we get from September 11th, the natural tendency is to let down our guard. Unfortunately, we cannot do that. We are a nation at war. We are the targets of enemies who have demonstrated they have no remorse about killing thousands of innocent civilians. The government will continue to do everything we can to find and stop those who seek to harm us. And I believe we owe it to the American people to remind them that they must be vigilant, as well."
    -Tom Ridge

  • #2
    Originally posted by condanchri View Post
    I registered a while back, but mostly just lurking until now. I am a police officer in a major US city. I may be taking over a False Alarm position where I would be responsible for billing companies, determining non response etc. One of the main goals of this new position would be to reduce false alarms (mostly residential, but some commercial). Much hgher fines don't seem to have made a huge impact, and the non response criteria is a bit stringent in my mind.

    If I get this poition, I will be dealing with alarm companies on a regular basis. So my question to all of you is - What do most cops not know about alarms/alarm companies that we should know and what would you do to reduce false alarms?

    Thanks for your input. If this is the wrong sub-forum, I apologize and and ask the moderator to move it.
    As a former copper myself, I know that police training in alarm systems is typically very sparse. You'll need to become knowledgeable about different types of sensors, their characteristics and intended purposes. An IR sensor would not be appropriate in some environments, nor a microwave sensor in others. The same is true of the media used for transmitting both sensor and alarm signals - from twisted-pair to shielded cable to fiberoptic and radio, dedicated hardwired, land-line phone, cellular, etc. Artificial intelligence is finding its way into systems that can recognize "patterns" and (more or less) "think" about whether an alarm should be signalled or not. The more you can learn about the technology, the better.

    There are a number of books that cover alarm systems, and there are courses in alarm systems that you can take over the Web if you have a mind to.

    Alarms are becoming "smarter" all the time, and the more robust systems involve dual or triple overlapping sensors of different types that must "confirm" one another before an alarm is triggered, as well as systems that are paired with CCTV for remote verification. Proper sensor selection for the area to be protected as well as the environment, proper installation, proper orientation and sensitivity settings, regular maintenance and adequate training for the property owner in arming and disarming the system are important factors.

    In case you're not aware of these resources, you will probably learn a lot from them:

    * The False Alarm Reduction Association

    * The Central Alarm Association position on false alarms.

    * The North Texas Alarm Association has a public-service video on false alarms that might give you some ideas about making your own. Check the link on the left side of the page.

    * The Problem-Oriented Policing Center has an interesting paper discussing the role of "verified response" that you might find interesting.

    * There's quite a bit of other literature available at the POP Center as well, which you can view at this page.

    You will also want to avoid becoming tunnel-visioned regarding FALSE alarms. As alarms become smarter, we can reasonably expect that more and more alarms will be GENUINE, so the question isn't merely reducing false alarms, but responding appropriately to any alarm. Somewhat on-topic with this subject is the very eye-opening "Kansas City Experiment" in patrol patterns and call response times relative to successful interdiction of crimes-in-progress. I am greatly oversimplifying the results, but basically, they were that:

    1. Preventive patrol makes less difference than we might think, and...

    2. You need to respond within 4 to 5 minutes of the initiation of a crime if you hope to interrupt it.

    These findings, if nothing else, support the value of a strong alliance between your operation and your agency's crime analysis/intelligence unit if for no other reason than that known current burglary patterns can be part of the calculus in resource allocation and response.

    Good luck!
    Last edited by SecTrainer; 12-22-2007, 01:03 AM.
    "Every betrayal begins with trust." - Brian Jacques

    "I can't predict the future, but I know that it'll be very weird." - Anonymous

    "There is nothing new under the sun." - Ecclesiastes 1:9

    "History, with all its volumes vast, hath but one page." - Lord Byron

    Comment


    • #3
      I appreciate the responses I have received both in this thread and through PM's. You have given me lots to work with. I understand that most false/nuisance alarms are user error and/or poor planning.

      The goal we have is based primarily on the same problem facing law enforcement nationwide - low staffing. The drain on patrol resources to respond to alarms is huge. Even with the new verification system, the drop in responses seems minimal.

      The common thread seems to be educate the end user - which I guess we all knew anyway.

      Thanks for the resources.
      sigpic"The further removed we get from September 11th, the natural tendency is to let down our guard. Unfortunately, we cannot do that. We are a nation at war. We are the targets of enemies who have demonstrated they have no remorse about killing thousands of innocent civilians. The government will continue to do everything we can to find and stop those who seek to harm us. And I believe we owe it to the American people to remind them that they must be vigilant, as well."
      -Tom Ridge

      Comment


      • #4
        If I had my way?

        On my old department we had a rising fee scale, depending on how many times we responded in a six month period. This was based solely on the number of false alarms.

        I've always felt that the size of the property / building should make a big difference in the cost of responding to a false alarm.

        If it takes two officers 30 minutes to clear the property, that response should have a proportionally larger fee then responding to your average household false alarm.

        I also feel there should be an ultimate limit, that if reached in any one year, would have that particular alarm not be responded to at all by the police, unless it can be proved to the police that there has been a crime committed. That would mean the offending company would have to have an employee, or a security company verify that there has been some crime committed at the property, and then the police would be notified, and would respond.

        In the city I worked in, there were a few companies that would have fallen into this category, due to their building(s) having numerous false alarms, sometimes on a daily basis, for months at a time.

        (note: to be fair, I should state that my old department did not have a cut off number of alarms, we responded to them all. The worst company would be charged thousands a month in fees, but I worked in a upper middle class area, and the businesses paid their fees, so I guess the city loved the extra money coming in, even though the city had a large income from the hotel tax, sales tax, and the property tax. Just to give you an idea of how much the city worked with, the annual city budget was approx $35 million, for a population of 28,000.

        Comment


        • #5
          You know, I have never had a PD or FD contact me in anyway, regarding policies, asking for input or help in understanding the problem. And I deal with quite a few jurisdictions, both in servicing the PD itself and city / county offices, and routinely in fire alarm permits, etc. And I've been doing this here for 16 years.

          From my point of view, most jurisdictions want to take the information off the internet or whatever, and don't care about working with the local professionals to help resolve the problem.
          sigpic
          Rocket Science
          Making everything else look simple, since 1958.


          http://my.opera.com/integrator/blog/
          One Man's Opinion

          The Future. It isn't what it used to be.

          Comment


          • #6
            Disclaimer: This is my personal opinion

            If I get this position, I think it is my best interest to work with all parties (companies & property owners) to find a reasonable common ground. Although, as a cop, I have found alarms to be a nuisance call 99% of the time, if properly set up and maintained AND the end user understands their responsibilities - it is obviously a worthwhile tool.

            If I get it, I hope to be able to meet with installers, alarm company reps ets, as well as the property owners that I would be giving classes to.
            sigpic"The further removed we get from September 11th, the natural tendency is to let down our guard. Unfortunately, we cannot do that. We are a nation at war. We are the targets of enemies who have demonstrated they have no remorse about killing thousands of innocent civilians. The government will continue to do everything we can to find and stop those who seek to harm us. And I believe we owe it to the American people to remind them that they must be vigilant, as well."
            -Tom Ridge

            Comment


            • #7
              Good for you. I hope you do get it, and sincerely hope you get good cooperation from the companies out there. My opinion is we're all on the same side; police, fire, guards and security companies. We want to make people and property safer.
              sigpic
              Rocket Science
              Making everything else look simple, since 1958.


              http://my.opera.com/integrator/blog/
              One Man's Opinion

              The Future. It isn't what it used to be.

              Comment


              • #8
                One site I worked at the penalties were raised to about $900 US a call out and to the client this was equal to just over 1 minute of lost salaries so anything like this was considered loose change. Same as the duress call for counter-terrorism we had training with the police often and of course we paid for it big time - but for the company it was just a method to keep insurance costs down. Some people just don't care what it costs them.
                "Keep your friends close and your enemies even closer" Sun Tzu

                Comment


                • #9
                  $900 a pop can finance some nice extras for the PD. I think I'd just keep raising it and keep the cash flow rolling in. Saves me having to pay as much taxes.
                  sigpic
                  Rocket Science
                  Making everything else look simple, since 1958.


                  http://my.opera.com/integrator/blog/
                  One Man's Opinion

                  The Future. It isn't what it used to be.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by condanchri View Post
                    I registered a while back, but mostly just lurking until now. I am a police officer in a major US city. I may be taking over a False Alarm position where I would be responsible for billing companies, determining non response etc. One of the main goals of this new position would be to reduce false alarms (mostly residential, but some commercial). Much hgher fines don't seem to have made a huge impact, and the non response criteria is a bit stringent in my mind.

                    If I get this poition, I will be dealing with alarm companies on a regular basis. So my question to all of you is - What do most cops not know about alarms/alarm companies that we should know and what would you do to reduce false alarms?

                    Thanks for your input. If this is the wrong sub-forum, I apologize and and ask the moderator to move it.
                    Some thoughts from someone who answers alarms for a living- my opinion is that the best way to reduce police response to false alarms is to have a private security firm responsible for responding to alarms with armed security officers who are trained both in how alarm systems work, and in armed apprehension. The idea being that a> if the alarm is false (and they usually are), the S/O can identify the cause of the false alarm. b> if there are trespassers on the site, the S/O can warn them off and c> if a felony is being committed on the site the S/O is trained and equipped to make a legal apprehension. The same works for fire alarms.

                    Like pre-emergency services: we show up to determine whether or not real emergency services need to be contacted. We can make their jobs allot easier by taking the first steps in getting the emergency under control while emergency services are on their way. That can mean evacuating a building, performing first aid, apprehending a felon: at the very least identifying exactly what the problem is so that when the big dogs arrive they know exactly what they are dealing with. Allot of this can come directly from being trained in how to read different kinds of annunciator panels.

                    In other words, false alarms can be entirely eliminated by employing an alarm response company. Some alarm companies come with their own response service. Others will call an alarm response service contracting with the client(s), to check out the alarm instead of calling emergency services.

                    This kind of service is just a good idea. And it also puts food on my table
                    formerly C&A

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by cocknaces View Post
                      Some thoughts from someone who answers alarms for a living- my opinion is that the best way to reduce police response to false alarms is to have a private security firm responsible for responding to alarms with armed security officers who are trained both in how alarm systems work, and in armed apprehension. The idea being that a> if the alarm is false (and they usually are), the S/O can identify the cause of the false alarm. b> if there are trespassers on the site, the S/O can warn them off and c> if a felony is being committed on the site the S/O is trained and equipped to make a legal apprehension. The same works for fire alarms.

                      Like pre-emergency services: we show up to determine whether or not real emergency services need to be contacted. We can make their jobs allot easier by taking the first steps in getting the emergency under control while emergency services are on their way. That can mean evacuating a building, performing first aid, apprehending a felon: at the very least identifying exactly what the problem is so that when the big dogs arrive they know exactly what they are dealing with. Allot of this can come directly from being trained in how to read different kinds of annunciator panels.

                      In other words, false alarms can be entirely eliminated by employing an alarm response company. Some alarm companies come with their own response service. Others will call an alarm response service contracting with the client(s), to check out the alarm instead of calling emergency services.

                      This kind of service is just a good idea. And it also puts food on my table
                      Good post! One powerful driver in the well-documented rise of private policing in recent years has been the recognition that private entities can do many jobs that historically fell to public agencies more or less "by default", and which sap the resources they need for their central mission.

                      Alarm response is one such "transferrable" job. Another is parking enforcement, and another is managing and maintaining the security of public buildings. Some jobs in corrections have been successfully transferred as well. There's a lot of literature available concerning this phenomenon if you're interested. "Private policing" (in quotes as a phrase) is a good starting search term.

                      With properly trained security officers as response agents, there should be much less (and always fully verified) need for any police response to alarm events.
                      Last edited by SecTrainer; 01-15-2008, 09:21 AM.
                      "Every betrayal begins with trust." - Brian Jacques

                      "I can't predict the future, but I know that it'll be very weird." - Anonymous

                      "There is nothing new under the sun." - Ecclesiastes 1:9

                      "History, with all its volumes vast, hath but one page." - Lord Byron

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by cocknaces View Post
                        Some thoughts from someone who answers alarms for a living- my opinion is that the best way to reduce police response to false alarms is to have a private security firm responsible for responding to alarms with armed security officers who are trained both in how alarm systems work, and in armed apprehension. The idea being that a> if the alarm is false (and they usually are), the S/O can identify the cause of the false alarm. b> if there are trespassers on the site, the S/O can warn them off and c> if a felony is being committed on the site the S/O is trained and equipped to make a legal apprehension. The same works for fire alarms.

                        Like pre-emergency services: we show up to determine whether or not real emergency services need to be contacted. We can make their jobs allot easier by taking the first steps in getting the emergency under control while emergency services are on their way. That can mean evacuating a building, performing first aid, apprehending a felon: at the very least identifying exactly what the problem is so that when the big dogs arrive they know exactly what they are dealing with. Allot of this can come directly from being trained in how to read different kinds of annunciator panels.

                        In other words, false alarms can be entirely eliminated by employing an alarm response company. Some alarm companies come with their own response service. Others will call an alarm response service contracting with the client(s), to check out the alarm instead of calling emergency services.

                        This kind of service is just a good idea. And it also puts food on my table
                        You must have seen the movie "Kuffs". That reminds me, I forgot to put that on my list a favorite movies on the other thread.
                        sigpic
                        Rocket Science
                        Making everything else look simple, since 1958.


                        http://my.opera.com/integrator/blog/
                        One Man's Opinion

                        The Future. It isn't what it used to be.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by SecTrainer View Post
                          Good post! One powerful driver in the well-documented rise of private policing in recent years has been the recognition that private entities can do many jobs that historically fell to public agencies more or less "by default", and which sap the resources they need for their central mission.

                          Alarm response is one such "transferrable" job. Another is parking enforcement, and another is managing and maintaining the security of public buildings. Some jobs in corrections have been successfully transferred as well. There's a lot of literature available concerning this phenomenon if you're interested. "Private policing" (in quotes as a phrase) is a good starting search term.

                          With properly trained security officers as response agents, there should be much less (and always fully verified) need for any police response to alarm events.
                          And the opposite sometimes happens. Eg security in M0ntréal's Métri was all but taken away from it's security force by a division of the police department.
                          I enforce rules and regulations, not laws.
                          Security Officers. The 1st First Responders.

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                          • #14
                            I can see why alarm monitoring companies dislike verified response services. After all, 911 was (and continues to be in some areas) free. Clients are happy that the "real police" will show up when the alarm is activated. They do not know that the police, by law, will not show up anymore unless someone "verifies the alarm condition."

                            Paying a private firm to verify this, or installing additional equipment (audio or visual sensors), etc all increases overhead. Which was unneeded before the days of 'verification.'
                            Some Kind of Commando Leader

                            "Every time I see another crazy Florida post, I'm glad I don't work there." ~ Minneapolis Security on Florida Security Law

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                            • #15
                              Originally posted by N. A. Corbier View Post
                              I can see why alarm monitoring companies dislike verified response services. After all, 911 was (and continues to be in some areas) free. Clients are happy that the "real police" will show up when the alarm is activated. They do not know that the police, by law, will not show up anymore unless someone "verifies the alarm condition."

                              Paying a private firm to verify this, or installing additional equipment (audio or visual sensors), etc all increases overhead. Which was unneeded before the days of 'verification.'
                              Yes we do have some issues with it. We currently verify by telephone in most instances, calling the premises and getting code, then dispatching if we don't reach someone. I don't have a problem with fines, but verified response can be expensive, if you're talking video or a security officer response. And if there's something really going on, then it's that much longer before police arrive. I think fines force customers to maintain their systems. It also forces better installations and better equipment, something I've tried to always do. I can by motion and glassbreak sensors for 1/2 of what I pay, but I have very few false alarms that are not user error. I also don't get very many small low cost jobs cause of this, but what can you do.
                              sigpic
                              Rocket Science
                              Making everything else look simple, since 1958.


                              http://my.opera.com/integrator/blog/
                              One Man's Opinion

                              The Future. It isn't what it used to be.

                              Comment

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