Taking a hard line on New York licensing

Taking a hard line on New York licensing


Sometimes trade publications are considered fluff and not hard hitting or good at taking a stance on issues. It may be true: we are trying to benefit the industry and don’t want to make enemies. Sure, I would love it if we could be Woodward and Bernstein of the Watergate scandal fame, but that’s really not what we are here for. We are here to foster improvement of the industry.  


But I’ve been covering the proposed New York licensing bill (see the story in our February issue inside our digital content at http://sdi.epubxpress.com/ for part I of the continuing saga) and trying to be as objective as possible with my coverage. I’ve talked to opponents and proponents so that you can make your own decision and that’s what is in the first report in our online content.


However, now I feel I have to take a harder line on this, hoping of course that I don’t make enemies in the process but instead get people to understand that Security Dealer & Integrator magazine IS vested in the industry. I’m going to go out on a limb here because I believe all this dissension is not in the best interests of the industry.


I’m sure you’ve been reading about the proposed licensing, called Article 6E, Business of Alarm Monitoring. I want to take a hard-line approach because of the realities of the situation.


Here are the realities: 

The New York Burglar and Fire Alarm Association I’m sure is not ill-willed in proposing this legislation or wanting to move forward with it, because it has a lot of time and effort invested in it. I’ve spoken to committee member John Lombardi and he feels it’s in the best interests of the organization and after speaking to him just a couple days ago he told me it’s in the hands of the board of directors who will review letters and other information and make a decision, but added: “I don’t know whether it will move forward or not but I feel it will.”  Lombardi added: “We are a benevolent association to the security industry and opened the recent meeting to all those who thought they hadn’t had the opportunity to respond. The board, at the Feb. 10 meeting, heard the commentary of those in attendance and will decide what direction to go in.”


(As an aside, according to my sources, there are some 3,400 licensed alarm companies in the state of New York and only about 300 belong to the NYBFAA.)


While the association contends that their open discussions on the issue of New York state licensing began in 2008, no one in the industry responded or provided little or no comment with regards to the draft, until early 2011. That may be the case, however, here is the bottom line on the issue: the major alarm installing and monitoring companies who operate in the state of New York—ADT, Rapid Response, Stanley Convergint Security Solutions Inc., Protection 1 Security Solutions, Vivint, Sonitrol, MACE CSSS, as well as others, including Doyle Security Systems Inc., Direct Alarm, Legacy Security Systems, Security Solutions Inc., C.O.P.S Monitoring—have unequivocally stated they are against this legislation. In fact, other than the committee members and some in the NYBFAA, I have not found anyone who is in favor of it, but please let me know if I am wrong.


However the New York Burglar and Fire Alarm Association is interpreting all this differently and seems to think the letters submitted are inconclusive and stated that the Board of Directors will “review the comment letters submitted by those unable to attend the February 10 meeting.” The directors are adding an agenda item for their next scheduled meeting in May 2011 to review additional comments. According to Joseph Hayes, president of the association and the owner of All County Security in Putnam Valley, N.Y., in a letter issued on his behalf by Dale Eller, executive director of the NYBAA, the organization will at this time “stop all actions seeking prospective legislative sponsors.”


Another reality: there are a significant number of consumers who would be affected by this new legislation centered on the central monitoring station. SD&I sources have indicated the number of monitored customer accounts in New York are in the seven figures.


Let’s not forget the opinion of the Central Station Alarm Association who “opposes the proposed New York Licensing bill,” in a statement distributed to media. “CSAA’s official position on this matter represents the will not only of its board and members but also numerous non-members in the central station industry who have communicated their concerns to CSAA about the proposed New YorkState licensing legislation.” In an exclusive interview with Ed Bonifas, vice president of Alarm Detection Systems of Illinois and president of the Central Station Alarm Association, “CSAA is actively looking at proposing a national licensing bill and will look to move forward quickly in that direction.” This is the positive action that is necessary. 


I decided to take the stance—that this action or any further action now or in May by the NYBFAA—would be detrimental to the industry. I am doing this because never before has there been a story in which there is a unified front by so many major players in the industry—competitors if you will—so I am going on more than instincts that it isn’t a good thing. We as an industry need to think about our customers, our image, what’s best for the industry to move forward in a unified front. We need to work with CSAA on promoting national licensing efforts, as they plan to do through the Alarm Industry Communications Committee. They will get to the real issue and get this resolved so we can all move on and to greater things—like trying to get more than 20 percent of our customers in the residential market using our systems!


What do you think? I want to hear from you and publish more comments in this space. I can send you the letters that have been sent by the major players and will work to post those later in this space. You can e-mail me at Deborah.omara@cygnusb2b.com. This is your industry and your time to speak your mind!–Deborah L. O’Mara, editor in chief, Security Dealer & Integrator magazine