More on video alarms

Last month, SIW took a look at how police departments across the nation are implementing prioritized response policies for video alarms in an effort to reduce false dispatches and increase their capture rates. Most jurisdictions are reliant upon monitoring companies notifying their 911 dispatch centers when suspicious activity is caught on camera at a protected property.

Several municipalities in Texas, however, have implemented a unique video monitoring model with the help of a company called Stealth Monitoring. In cities such as Addison and Irving, Stealth Monitoring has setup a dedicated computer inside their respective dispatch centers to stream live video of incidents.

According to Addison Chief of Police Ron Davis , one of the benefits of the system is the dispatcher can view exactly what the monitoring company is seeing and provide that information directly to officers.

"Instead of getting a phone call as we have for years, all of a sudden the monitor in there comes in live and we're actually seeing whatever the operator at Stealth is seeing in real time," he said. "We're actually seeing what is going on live and the next step is for us to send those (video clips) to (mobile data computers) in the officer's car and even their handheld devices such as an iPhone."

Davis added that this new video monitoring technology is also providing police with information that they have lacked when responding to traditional intrusion alarms such as a description of the suspect or the vehicle they're driving. Eventually, Davis said he believes the technology could lead to an overall reduction in property crimes in cities like Addison.

"When this capability becomes routine with other companies... you're going to see a big decrease in these types of crimes," Davis said. "People are not going to be able to spend a lot of time figuring out how to break into buildings."

While some have expressed concerns that this boom in video alarms could lead to police being inundated with random video clips, Capt. John Thorpe, of the Irving Police Department, says that Stealth does a good job of pre-screening videos for actual criminal activities.

"Stealth has done an excellent job of hiring and training employees so they aren't calling unless they see something genuine," he explained. "Once we see what they're seeing, we're probably going to respond. We're going to be watching to see if the circumstances change and if it appears to be innocent activity, we won't be sending an officer. They do a good job of vetting (the video)."

Thorpe said that the advent of voice technology in conjunction with video will also help business owners minimize losses from break-ins.

"From the point of view of the business entity, you want technology to run (the intruders) off," he explained. "From the police perspective, it makes them harder to catch, but from the business perspective, it saves damage costs."