Albuquerque to use private response for public buildings

Critics say city is ignoring the problem of alarm system misuse


According to a report from the Security Industry Alarm Coalition (SIAC), the city of Albuquerque, N.M., is looking into a test program that would pay a private security company $18,000 for six months to respond to alarm calls at the city’s 40 public buildings.

Despite the fact that there is a city ordinance in place that charges residents and business owners fines for alarm misuse, Albuquerque has exempted public buildings from having to comply with the same regulations, which some critics say is unfair.

“What they are basically doing is ignoring the problem and responding to it,” said SIAC Director Ron Walters. “Whereas they force the citizens to fix their alarms and to not have responses, they are just going to pay somebody to go to these alarms and not correct them. There is no part of this (test program) that includes correcting the alarm systems.”

The New Mexico Burglar and Fire Alarm Association has offered to evaluate the alarm systems at each public building free of charge, but the city council has yet to take them up on their offer.

Walters said that municipal buildings, especially schools, are some of the biggest alarm offenders, due in large part to misuse by employees.

“Typically, it is just a matter of bringing (the problem) to someone’s attention,” he said. “With no hammer hanging over (the city’s) head there is no reason to fix it. We are not necessarily against them having someone to respond to their alarms, but we are against them not doing the same exact thing they expect everyone else to, which is to not have the problems in the first place.

Walters said that the SIAC was recently contacted by the assistant for one of the councilmen and added that he hopes to have some more dialogue with the city about the issue soon.