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.
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
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
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.......
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.
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, 2005. This 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?
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.
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.
City of Dallas
Alarm Ordinance & Policy Enhancements
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
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
• Section 214 Local Government Code does not
limit fees for commercial permits for police
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
• 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
• 6th and 7th alarm dispatch chargeable at
• 8 or more alarm dispatches chargeable at
• The increased fees assist the city to recover
officer response expenses from those
individuals or businesses that have a security
• 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
IV. Adoption of CP-01 Alarm Control Compliancy
• State mandated 1702.287 Occupations Code
requires all burglar alarm systems installed in
Texas to comply with minimum standards defined
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
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
VI. Assess Fines for every false hold-up, panic, or
duress call (no “Freebies”)
• Change as recommended by the City proposal.
• $100 per response
• $100 for first
• $200 for second
• $300 for third
• $400 for fourth and beyond
ALARM INDUSTRY REDUCTION OF FALSE ALARMS
BY MANDATED STATE LAW COMPLIANCE
I. Adoption of CP-01 Alarm Control Compliancy
• As defined by 1702.287 and described under
item IV of City Alarm Ordinance Adoption
II. Obligations of Alarm Company
• 1702.286(a) Occupation Code requires all
Burglar alarm companies to provide the
o Applicable State Law relating to false
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
• 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.
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
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.......
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.
VERIFIED ALARM RESPONSE