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Verified Alarm Response - A Failure in Crime Reduction

CRIME INCREASES IN CITIES WITH VERIFIED RESPONSE

By Calie Stephens,  Editor of dallascrime.com, 10/01/05

10/01/05 - The latest proposal by the City of Dallas to adopt "Verified Alarm Response" can best be described as both dishonest and stupid.  Most facts presented by the city and the local media to justify this policy are just wrong.

If "Verified Alarm Response" is adopted in Dallas, the police will not respond to a burglar alarm signal unless the homeowner, a private guard service or some other individual visually verifies that a burglary is in progress at your home.  One exception:  the police will still respond to human-activated alarms such as hold-ups buttons, police panic buttons and duress codes.

If the goal of the city is to reduce crime, this policy has failed miserably to accomplish that goal in the two largest cities that have adopted the program.  Take a look at the burglary and total crime rates in Salt Lake City and Las Vegas and you will understand why.

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UCR STATS FOR LARGEST U.S. CITIES WITH ALARM VERIFICATION

 

Salt Lake City, UT*

 

YEAR                         POPULATION                       BURGLARIES                      BURGLARIES/100,000

 

2000                                  179,455                                     2169                                              1209

2001                                  184,723                                     2209                                              1196

2002                                  188,564                                     2512                                              1332

2003                                  184,022                                     2359                                              1282

2004                                  184,022                                     2353                                              1279

 

from 2001 to 2004 - actual burglaries increased 6.5% - burglaries per 100,000 increased 6.9%

 

YEAR                         POPULATION                    TOTAL CRIMES                TOTAL CRIMES/100,000

 

2000                                  179,455                                     16,928                                            9433

2001                                  184,723                                     16,503                                            8934

2002                                  188,564                                     19,146                                         10,154

2003                                  184,022                                     18,039                                            9800

2004                                  184,022                                     17,670                                            9602

 

from 2001 to 2004 - actual total crime increased  7.1% - total crime per 100,000 increased 7.5%

 

*Verification in Salt Lake City began December 31, 2000

 

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Las Vegas, NV**

 

YEAR                         POPULATION                       BURGLARIES                      BURGLARIES/100,000

 

2000                                 1,020,055                                    9535                                             935

2001                                 1,117,763                                 10,083                                             902

2002                                 1,153,546                                 11,136                                             965

2003                                 1,189,388                                 12,782                                           1075

2004                                 1,189,388                                 14,224                                           1196

 

from 2001 to 2004 - actual burglaries increased  41.1% - burglaries per 100,000 increased 32.6%

 

YEAR                         POPULATION                  TOTAL CRIMES                TOTAL CRIMES/100,000

 

2000                                 1,020,055                                 47,653                                           4672

2001                                 1,117,763                                 50,838                                           4548

2002                                 1,153,546                                 57,080                                           4948

2003                                 1,189,388                                 66,710                                           5567

2004                                 1,189,388                                 69,437                                           5838

 

from 2001 to 2004  - actual total crime increased  36.6% - total crime per 100,000 increased 28.4%

 

**Verification in Las Vegas began in 1991

 

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The above figures are from the the FBI Uniform Crime Statistics (UCR) that are published yearly.  The UCR reports the number of crimes in nine categories in each city with population of 10,000 or  more. 

Las Vegas, a city with a population similar to Dallas, adopted Verified Response in 1991.  From 2001 to 2004, the total number of burglaries have increased 41.1% and the total crimes have increased 36.6%.  Adjusting for population growth, the burglaries per capita have increased 32.6% and the total crimes per capita have increased 28.4%.  

Salt Lake City, a much smaller city with a population about 1/6th that of Dallas adopted verified response in 2001.  From 2001 to 2004, the total number of burglaries have increased 6.5% and the total crimes have increased 7.1%.  Adjusting for population growth, the burglaries per capita have increased 6.9% and the total crimes per capita have increased 7.5%.

If the goal of Verified Response is to reduce crime, it has failed.  Some proponents of the policy say that burglaries may indeed increase, but total crime will decrease.  You show me where this has happened in Las Vegas or in Salt Lake City.

More to follow tomorrow.......

Calie

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WHY DID LOS ANGELES ADOPT THEN REJECT VERIFIED RESPONSE?

By Calie Stephens,  Editor of dallascrime.com, 10/03/05

10/03/05 - The Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) announced that beginning in July 2003, they would implement a verified response for all burglary alarms. 

January 28,2003, the Mayor and City Council created a 25 member Burglar Alarm Task Force consisting of the Board of Police Commissioners, the LAPD, representatives of the alarm industry, representatives & interested members of neighborhood councils & community police advisory boards, City Attorney, Chief Legislative Analyst and the City Administrative Officer to define verification protocols, create a public education program, suggest revisions to the LA Municipal Code with respect to Alarm Systems, review the verifcation policy in other cities and other actions as may be appropriate.

On April 22, 2003 the City Council voted unanimously 11-0 to accept the report of the Burglar Alarm Task Force.  The City Council strongly urged the Los Angeles Police Commission to withdraw the LAPD verified response policy and implement the alarm response recommendations of the Task Force.  The report can be found at www.lacity.org/batforce .

On July 22, 2003 the Los Angeles Police Commission voted 4 to 1 to abandon verified response and approve the findings of the Task Force with minor changes.

The policy adopted by the Commission includes allowing dispatch to two false alarms in a twelve-month period without physical verification and provides for escalating fines to the alarm owner starting with the first false alarm.  Also, on subsequent activations, if the LAPD did not receive physical or video verification, they would not respond to the alarm.

The Task Force discovered that of the approximately 250,000 alarm systems in LA, 81% of the alarm owners in Los Angeles had no false alarms in a 12 month period.  Of the 19% of alarm owners who did have false alarms,  77% of them had two or less false alarms a year.  

ALARMS  CALLS      ALARM SYSTEMS      CALLS/ SYSTEM

            0                               2O2,500                          0

       27,396                              27,396                          1

       20,130                              10,065                          2

       13,326                                4,442                          3

       29,179                                5,511                        4 - 9

       16,609                                   999                  10 or more

     106,640                            250,913                      TOTAL

Under the Task Force Plan, 239,961 security systems owners out of the total 250,913 would still be responded to by the police.   They would not be penalized because of the 4.3% of the owners who are responsible for 55.4% of the alarms. 

Dallas needs to study the results of the Los Angeles Task Force carefully before it penalizes the vast majority of responsible alarm system owners for the actions of a few.  The data being provided to the citizens of Dallas is being distorted by the Mayor and the Police Chief.  We need straight facts before we make a very unwise decision.

Tomorrow we discuss the fact that alarm owners in Dallas are paying for the response of police to their alarm systems with fees and fines that exceed the cost to respond by over $600,000.

Calie

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SECURITY SYSTEM OWNERS ARE PAYING CITY FOR POLICE RESPONSE

By Calie Stephens,  Editor of dallascrime.com, 10/05/05

The Police Chief stated in his September 28, 2005 letter to City of Dallas Permit Holders that "Responding to these false alarms took approximately 47,000 police officer hours.  That is the equivalent of 41 police officers, at a cost of approximately $3.485,000 in police salary."

What he didn't say in his letter was that the Dallas Permit Holders are now paying the city $3.841,000 in alarm permit fees and fines, according to the discussion document (page 13) on Verified Alarm Response released by the Dallas Police Department on August 16, 2005This means that security system owners are covering the cost of the current police response PLUS providing the city with additional revenue of $356,000

REVENUE FROM ALARM FEES & FINES                                $ 3,841,000

POLICE SALARY TO RESPOND TO ALARMS                       -$ 3,485,000   

SURPLUS REVENUE TO CITY FROM FEES & FINES           $   356,000

According to page 10 of the same discussion document released by the Police Chief on August 16,  "86% of the citizens and businesses without alarms are subsidizing alarm response for 14% who have alarms."  How the hell are the people with alarms being subsidized when they are paying for the complete cost of police response and on top of that, giving the ungrateful police department a big tip of $356,000? 

To make up part of this $3.841,000 loss, the Chief has proposed that permit fees for commercial accounts be doubled from $50 per year to $100.  He also proposed that fines for false panic, duress and hold-up calls be increased. This could still be done without adopting Verified Response and add $1,721,098 to the police department budget that could be used to hire more police.  That money would pay for 20 additional police.  The only problem with doing this is........the city would be violating Texas State Law S. B. 568 that prevents any municipality from collecting ANY fees or fines if it choses to adopt Verified Response.

I am starting to think that Dallas's Mayor and Police Chief must be getting their advise from the Mayor and Police Chief of New Orleans.   City government in Dallas is looking more like New Orleans every day....our leaders have about the same competence level. 

This entire issue of considering Verified Response is so absurd that it reminds me of what New Orleans Mayor Nagin said when asked wouldn't it have saved lives if he had ordered the hundreds of city school buses be used to evacuate New Orleans before Hurricane Katrina hit the city.  He said, "Hello.......can't you see they're under water!"  That makes about as much sense as our Mayor, City Council and Police Chief pushing this Verified Response scheme .

The issue of Verified Alarm Response is a sham.  VERIFIED RESPONSE WILL NOT REDUCE CRIME and IT WILL NOT SAVE MONEY.  Why on earth are we even considering it?

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IF DALLAS ADOPTS VERIFIED RESPONSE, TEXAS STATE LAW S. B. 568 WILL RESULT IN THE LOSS OF $3,841,000 IN REVENUE CURRENTLY COLLECTED FROM ALARM OWNERS

By Calie Stephens,  Editor of dallascrime.com, 10/08/05

The following information was provided by the Alarm Information Website:

The City of Dallas' Verified Response Proposal bases all financial ramifications from adopting "Verified Response" on money they claim will be collected in direct violation of Texas State Law. IF the city adopts the proposal the city will lose almost 4 million of annual reoccurring revenue. Even IF the proposal was correct it would be unjustified to collect a fee for not responding to alarms.

City of Dallas - Verified Response Proposal -page 9 (link) (image-page 9)
" Continue issuing permits and charging permit fees for commercial sites
Increase fee to $100"

Texas Local Government Code - Chapter 214.199 (pdf)(html)
Sec. 214.199.  EXCEPTION OF MUNICIPALITY FROM ALARM SYSTEM
RESPONSE.  (a)  The governing body of a municipality may not adopt an ordinance providing that law enforcement personnel of the municipality will not respond to any alarm signal indicated by an alarm system in the municipality unless, before adopting the
ordinance, the governing body of the municipality:

(1)  makes reasonable efforts to notify permit holders of its intention to adopt the ordinance; and
(2)  conducts a public hearing at which persons interested in the response of the municipality to alarm systems are given the opportunity to be heard.
(b)  A municipality that adopts an ordinance under this section may not impose or collect any fine, fee, or penalty otherwise authorized by this subchapter.

Calie

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AN ALTERNATIVE TO VERIFIED RESPONSE

By Calie Stephens,  Editor of dallascrime.com, 10/09/05

The following is an ALTERNATIVE to the proposed Verified Response Policy being considered by the Dallas City Council on Wednesday, October 12, 2005.  The ALTERNATIVE has been developed by the North Texas Alarm Association (NTAA).

Many of the Dallas Police Department's assumptions made to justify Verified Response are either misleading, false or cannot be implemented without violating current Texas Law.  The following ALTERNATIVE by the NTAA is straight forward and satisfies and complies with all aspects of S.B. 568 and other state laws and regulations governing the alarm industry.

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City of Dallas


 Alarm Ordinance & Policy Enhancements


ALARM PERMITS
INCREASE CITY REVENUE

I. Residential Annual Alarm Permit $50
   • No recommended change.

   • The City of Dallas receives $3,016,550 annually

     for Residential Alarm Permits.

   • Sec 214.194(b) Local Government Code sets the 

     maximum of $50 on a residential alarm permit

     fee.
II. Commercial Annual Alarm Permit $100

    • Recommended increase from $50 to $100 on

      commercial permit fees for police response.

    • Based on the increase permit fees, Commercial

      Alarm permits would generate $1,482,400

      annually.

    • Section 214 Local Government Code does not

      limit fees for commercial permits for police

      response.

 ____________


REDUCE FALSE ALARMS THROUGH CITY ORDINANCE
Utilizing Elements of Revised State Law

I. Reduce Non-Chargeable Alarm Dispatches

   • Section 214.197(1,2,3) Local Government Code

     defines a tiered penalty structure for False

     Alarms starting after the 3rd false alarm.

   • Recommendation to begin writing false alarm

     citations at 3 instead of 5.

* Local industry is studying the impact this will have on the

  total number of false alarms.
II. Increase Fines for False Alarms

    • The issuance of fines is well known and

      understood to be a useful instrument in law

      enforcement.
    • Increasing fines will help reduce false alarms.

    • The tiered system outlines increasing fines

      based on the number of false alarms.

      • 4th and 5th alarm dispatch chargeable at

        $50 each.

      • 6th and 7th alarm dispatch chargeable at

        $75 each.

      • 8 or more alarm dispatches chargeable at

        $100 each.

    • The increased fees assist the city to recover

      officer response expenses from those

      individuals or businesses that have a security

      system.

    • Based on the increased fine system, a

      conservative estimation calculates $125,000 in

      city revenue annually.


III. Revoke Alarm Permit

     • Section 214.195(d) provides for municipalities

       to adopt an ordinance to revoke and/or refuse

       to renew a permit after 8 False Alarm

       Dispatches in a 12 month period.

     • This authority may permit the city to

       establish conditions to renew or reinstate a

       revoked permit based on criteria adopted by

       ordinance.

IV. Adoption of CP-01 Alarm Control Compliancy

    Standard

    • State mandated 1702.287 Occupations Code

      requires all burglar alarm systems installed in

      Texas to comply with minimum standards defined

      by CP-01.

      o The purpose of all the features of CP-01

        is to reduce false alarms.

      o State law establishes alarm company

        compliance to begin in January 2007 as a

        grace period to permit alarm equipment

        manufacturers time to comply.

    • The new rule applies to replacement of burglar

      alarm control panels as well as new

      installations. 

V. Adoption of Enhanced Call Verification

   • Section 214.198 provides for municipalities to

     adopt an ordinance that requires alarm companies

     to place multiple calls to the permit holder

     prior to requesting police response.

     o The Alarm Industry is an advocate and

       supporter of this process.

     o ECV (Enhanced Call Verification) has proven

       effective in reducing false alarm

       dispatches.


 

VI. Assess Fines for every false hold-up, panic, or

    duress call (no “Freebies”)
    Change as recommended by the City proposal.
      o Residential:
        • $100 per response
      o Commercial:
        • $100 for first
        • $200 for second
        • $300 for third
        • $400 for fourth and beyond
 

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ALARM INDUSTRY REDUCTION OF FALSE ALARMS
BY MANDATED STATE LAW COMPLIANCE

I. Adoption of CP-01 Alarm Control Compliancy

   Standard

   • As defined by 1702.287 and described under

     item IV of City Alarm Ordinance Adoption

     Items.

 
II. Obligations of Alarm Company

    • 1702.286(a) Occupation Code requires all

      Burglar alarm companies to provide the

      following information.

      o Applicable State Law relating to false

        alarms

      o How to prevent False Alarms

      o How to Operate the Alarm System

        • Local industry strongly supports

          this process. The North Texas Alarm

          Association has begun production of

          a professional video and material in

          support. The final product will be

          made available to all alarm

          companies in an effort to raise the

          level of professionalism and to

          improve good communications for

          maximum effectiveness.

    • 1702.286(b) Occupation Code requires Burglar

      alarm companies to notify the municipality

      upon activation of an alarm system.

      o This state mandated requirement should

        improve and increase the number of

        permitted alarms in the city by

        requiring all alarm installations and

        activations to be reported.

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ALARM INDUSTRY RECOMMENDATION

I. Replace Alarm Conference Method

   Currently the city of Dallas hosts alarm

     conferences between the permit holder and the

     Alarm Company. The purpose of the conference is

     to determine the cause of false alarms and to

     establish a plan to resolve them.

   • The industry believes that police officer

     resources could be better utilized by placing

     the burden on the permit holder and Alarm

     Company to meet and accomplish the same results.

   • The permit holder should send the Dallas Alarm

     Unit proof that a conference took place between

     the permit holder and the Alarm Company. The

     City approved form should also require an

     outline of the agreed upon plan of action

     between the permit holder and the Alarm Company,

     signed by both parties. Failure to comply with

     the total process in a reasonable time period,

     as defined by ordinance, could result in

     ordinance mandated penalties for one or both

     parties.


 

II. Redeploy Six Commissioned Dallas Officers In

    Exchange For Non-commissioned FTEs.

    • Currently, Dallas Police and Special

      Collections is burdened with a payroll of

      $680,000 that includes 6 Commissioned Sworn

      Officers to administrate the ordinance.

    • Redeploy the Six Sworn Officers and replace

      them with Four Non-Commissioned FTE.

    • This adjustment could have a net savings to the

      city of $380,000 or more.

____________

Financial Impact Statement

Residential Alarm Permit Fees               3,016,550

Commercial Alarm Permit Fees                1,482,400

Excessive False Alarm Service Fines           641,700

 

False Panic, Duress & Holdup Fines            979,898

 
Redeployment of 6 Sworn Officers              380,000

TOTAL ANNUAL REVENUE TO CITY:           $6,500,548

____________

A quick comment on the above ALTERNATIVE plan and I'm calling it quits for the night.  Let's assume that the above plan does not reduce false alarms and that Kunkle's figure of $3,485.000 to respond to alarms is true.  If you subtract the $3,485,000 cost to respond from the $6,500,548 annual revenue collected from ALARM OWNERS, you are left with $3,015,548.  Using Kunkle's figure of $85,000 per year for a policeman, you can now hire an additional 35 police for the city.

This would mean that the alarm owners of Dallas would continue to be responded to by professional police and would be providing ALL citizens of Dallas with an additional 35 police.   All this at NO COST TO THE CITIZENS THAT DO NOT CHOSE TO HAVE A BURGLAR ALARM!!!! 

Think about it.......

Calie

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CITY COUNCIL VOTES VERIFIED RESPONSE FOR COMMERCIAL

01/07/06 - Dallas City Council has voted to adopt Verified Response for commercial burglar alarm systems.  After residents filled the City Council chambers two weeks in a row, speaking out overwhelmingly against VR, the Mayor and Council decided against including residential systems.  My take is that they felt it would be political suicide since the public was so obviously against VR. 

Commercial owners are a small minority compared with residents.......the Mayor and Council figure that the worst that will happen is that businesses will accelerate their exodus to the suburbs away from the unfriendly business climate of Dallas.  So what if Dallas continues to lose tax base.

At this time, I am so thoroughly disgusted with the city.  This has got to be the most illogical decision made in some time by city government.......and with the many bad choices the Mayor and Council have made lately.........that says a lot.  I will revisit the subject later, when my stomach calms down.

Calie

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VERIFIED ALARM RESPONSE