Friday, August 19, 2011

Verified Alarm Response: You Can Only Cry "Wolf" For So Long

A couple of days ago the Detroit Free Press had a story about Detroit Police adopting a verified response policy for burglar alarm response. Verified response means that the police will not respond to a burglar alarm unless the homeowner or alarm company verify that there was an actual burglary. From the story:

Noting that 98% of the alarms that police officers respond to are false, Godbee said the department will require a verified response before sending officers to the location of the alarm. The new policy will take effect Monday.

As more and more police departments face limited resources and budget cuts, Godbee said the logical area of reduction appeared to be unproductive calls for service. He said false alarms are an immense drain on the department's staffing and finances.

I did a study one year at the sleepy little burg where I work and over 99.6% of all our burglar alarm calls in a year were false alarms. Additionally, alarms was the largest single category of Calls For Service. I can think of no other Call that is more unproductive than burglar alarms.

Think about it this way, if you had a citizen who called 911 repeatedly to report a crime and out of the thousands of times he called, his reports were false 99.6% of the time. Just how many times do you think he'd have to call before he'd get arrested for abusing the 911 system? Three or four times? Yet, because it's a piece of very fallible technology we're going to keep sending officers to these things over and over again without stopping to think of the resources we are wasting.

The silver lining in our fiscally distressed police budgets is that we are having to take a good hard look at becoming leaner, more efficient operations and kill off those services that waste significant resources. I can only hope that more police departments will adopt such verified response policies.

What types of calls waste resources at your agency? What are you doing to rid your agency of such time wasters so you can focus on making your community safer?


  1. I was happy to find your blog through Location Based As an alarm administrator, I was even more thrilled to see that the false alarm issue was featured. I am just starting to check your site, but everything looks great so far. Thanks for the hard work.

  2. Michelle, Thanks for the kind comments!


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