Will Enhanced Call Verification Shape Alarm Ordinances?

Early support from Georgia and Tennessee chiefs indicates ECV may become part of community policy


The Security Industry Alarm Coalition, better known simply as SIAC, gained a valuable foothold in the past weeks as it signed on both the Georgia Association of Chiefs of Police and the Tennessee Association of Chiefs of Police in support of the enhanced call verification (ECV) protocol.

The news, reported in brevity earlier on SecurityInfoWatch.com (see earlier article), means that these chiefs associations will be supporting enhanced call verification as a way to continue to respond to security alarms, while at the same time, minimizing the number of false calls given to their respective police departments. The ECV protocol requires that central stations put in two calls to attempt to verify an alarm before contacting police dispatch centers for a response.

On hand at ISC East 2005 for announcement of this agreement between SIAC and the chiefs associations were LaGrange, Ga.'s Police Chief Lou Dekmar and former Cleveland, Tenn., Police Chief Lee Reese. Both men are the immediate past presidents of their respective state chiefs associations.

According to Dekmar, the need for ECV comes directly out of reality. He notes that between 8 and 10 percent of all calls for service are for false alarms, and that most estimates of alarm calls put false percentages in the 80th or 90th percentile.

SIAC initiated the relationship with the help of SIAC law enforcement liaison Glen Mowrey, Retired Deputy Chief of the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department. Mowrey says he saw the effort as a way of averting possible verified response or non-response possibilities that have come up in police departments and at city councils wearied by high costs of responding to alarms. As part of process of getting endorsements for ECV, Mowrey assisted the associations in setting up alarm committees to deal with the increasing issue of alarm response.

Chief Reese added that the process of the endorsement was one that "sets an example of working together" between the industry and the law enforcement community. Reese added that the ECV protocol comes at a much needed time for the industry, noting that any decrease in false alarms allows law enforcement officers to focus their resources on more dire crimes and deal with issues of terrorism.

Chief Dekmar said that there is a vital need for maintaining a working relationship between the alarm industry and police departments, and said in a post conference interview that he felt non-response policies are "ill-advised," and that such policies raise serious concerns of public safety.

"Even if we know that most alarms are false," explains Dekmar, "we know that some of those are real." With ECV, he says, "We have a real alternative to non-response, especially since you have all of the stakeholders working together."

Dekmar added that since the Georgia Chiefs association has endorsed a resolution supporting ECV, he's seeing noted interest in his state -- interest, he says, which may well shape city laws.

"I expect there will be some [ordinance changes] based on the calls I've received," said Dekmar.

To assist in the process, the Georgia Chiefs association, in conjunction with SIAC, has been developing materials on ECV policies, including training manuals and model ordinances. A new brochure explaining ECV has been developed specifically for the state of Georgia and will be made available to police departments across the state.

SIAC's Executive Director Stan Martin added that the organization's efforts has given the industry a positive foothold and relationship with the law enforcement community.

"We're looking to use Georgia and Tennessee as a model to bring aboard more state associations," said Martin.