Most electronic security systems in communities protect life and property without generating calls for police services. Those of us in the electronic security industry have seen these benefits demonstrated consistently over the years. But a recent study from a professor at the UNC-Charlotte, Criminal Justice and Criminology Department fully supports this view. That’s extremely good for all of us in the electronic security industry.

Four cities were chosen for the study:  Charlotte-Mecklenburg, North Carolina; Atlanta and Marietta, Georgia; and Montgomery County, Maryland. These communities represented two large agencies, one smaller suburban agency and one county agency managing more than 570,000 permitted alarm systems.

Dr. Joe Kuhns, Professor, UNC-Charlotte, Criminal Justice and Criminology, headed the study. “A key finding of the study is that the vast majority of alarm systems in these four locations were effective at protecting lives and property while generating zero calls for service in a given year, and only a tiny percentage are problematic systems that generated multiple calls for service,” Kuhns reported.

The annual average percentage of registered alarms that generated zero dispatches was as high as 92% in Charlotte-Mecklenburg, 82.6% in Atlanta, 87.5% in Montgomery County and 66.4% in Marietta. These statistics represented an 8- or 10-year average, depending on how long the ordinance had been in effect.

“It is noteworthy that the percentage of zero dispatches tends to increase over time. As jurisdictions get better at administration, and the public becomes more familiar with the ordinance, results consistently improved over time in these four settings,” Kuhns said.

The proportion of problematic systems, which generate three or more dispatches in a year, was only .09 percent in Charlotte-Mecklenburg, 3.5 percent in Atlanta, 1.08 percent in Montgomery County and 8.7 percent in Marietta.

There are several particularly powerful points to emphasize regarding these findings for local communities, law enforcement and our industry, including:

The Model Alarm Ordinance directly addresses the issue that the vast majority of false alarms are caused by user error. The study demonstrates that the strategy of focusing on the chronic abusers and fining owners who are careless in operating their electronic security systems is the most effective way of minimizing calls for service.

  1. The Model Alarm Ordinance is a framework that communities can modify to best fit their local needs.

SIAC has put together a video summary that pulls together Dr. Kuhns’ presentation at ESX in Fort Worth earlier this summer. This compelling presentation is worth showing to every alarm association across the country, and to your local law enforcement agencies.