Alarm Dispatches Drop Dramatically as Verification Enforced in Appleton
FRISCO, Texas (April 1 2009) – The Appleton, WI, Police Department reported an all-time low number of burglar alarm dispatches in January 2009, with only 36 for the month, according to statistics released by the department. The department has worked closely with the alarm industry over the past several years to implement new procedures for reducing alarm dispatches in the city of Appleton.
One of the challenges faced in implementing change was how to address a 911 communications center shared by several communities in the area. Central to efforts that reduce false alarms, is a requirement for monitoring centers to place two calls to a customer before dispatching to police. This procedure has demonstrated it can reduce the number of calls to 911 centers by over 50 percent, if adopted by the majority of monitoring centers servicing the community.
The city of Appleton mandated this two-call verification procedure, termed ECV or Enhanced Call Verification. But, according to Appleton Captain, Julie Bahr, the challenge was how to enforce the new policy. The Department worked with the 911 center to establish a procedure asking for two phone numbers from the alarm central station before authorizing a dispatch. The 911 center was hesitant to implement this process because it would cause inconsistencies in how it handles the other municipalities it serves. “It was a challenge,” she said, “that we had to address by working with the alarm industry and communications center.”
Working with officials from the Wisconsin Burglar and Fire Alarm Association (WBFAA), the Appleton Police Department took a number of steps to improve alarm management by the industry and its customers, but that hit a wall last year. At that time, Bahr was looking for new ways to further reduce alarm dispatches to the 911 center.
“We had a leveling off in terms of the reduction in alarm calls. We wanted to see that number keep going down, so we sought another meeting with local alarm industry officials to see what we could come up with,” Bahr said.
After two meetings, and follow-up discussions, Bahr decided to pursue ECV through the 911 center despite the fact that only the city Appleton had an ordinance that mandated the procedure. “We felt it was the right thing to do, and if sold properly, we’d get buy-in and see the results we were looking for,” she observed.
Mike Horgan, former WBFAA President, worked closely with Bahr, along with other industry members and support from the Security Industry Alarm Coalition (SIAC), a non-profit group dedicated to working cooperatively to improve alarm management practices. “We agreed that ECV enforcement was critical, and then it was a matter of figuring out how to best implement it,” Horgan said.
“Time and time again, we have seen the practical advantages to the ECV policy,” stated SIAC executive director Stan Martin. “Appleton is one of the best examples nationwide of how an effectively managed policy will reduce the number of dispatches for emergency personnel.”
While Bahr acknowledges other factors may be involved in the most recent alarm call reductions, she believes ECV is a major contributing factor: “I certainly think that our Communications Center now asking if the two calls have been made for the Enhanced Call Verification procedure is having the effect we were hoping for. I hope that I am correct and we continue with these low numbers throughout the year.”
Horgan agrees, and would like to see the effort expand further into Wisconsin. “Reducing alarm dispatches benefits everyone; the public, customers, the police department and the security industry. Fewer calls to police means resources are freed up to fight the highest priority crime. Two-call verification helps us get there, and if we can expand this elsewhere in Wisconsin, that’s good for the state.”
SIAC is comprised of four major North American security associations--Canadian Security Association (CANASA), Security Industry Association (SIA), Central Station Alarm Association (CSAA), and the National Burglar & Fire Alarm Association (NBFAA)--representing one voice for the alarm industry on alarm management issues. SIAC’s primary charter is to significantly reduce calls for service while strengthening the lines of communication with law enforcement professionals and end users. For more information, contact www.SIACinc.org.
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