"Despite years of coordinated effort and communication with the Dallas PD, the department is still considering stopping response to standard burglar alarm signals at all locations," writes SIAC's Executive Director Stan Martin in an update to the Dallas response policy review currently in place.
According to the new proposal, which has been widely criticized by the alarm industry as a policy that would weaken public safety, Dallas would turn a policy that only sends police to businesses or homes if a crime-in-progress can be verified, either by surveillance, audio listening, guard response or a neighbor. Under the current situation, the department responds to alarms by dispatching officers. Martin notes that hold-up, panic, and duress alarms would still receive response.
The Dallas proposal, led by Chief David Kunkle, cites a high false alarm rate and claims that the policy could save the city some $3.5 million per year by the department's counts.
Kunkle's policy follows a recent change in Texas law that addressed false alarm concerns. The new state law (see earlier article), in fact, already included features to help minimize the effects of false alarms. It put in place the CP-01 standard for equipment, and allowed municipalities to create an escalating fine structure for repeat false alarm offenders and established the standards of Enhanced Call Verification, which SIAC, NBFAA and other industry associations have widely supported.
Martin added that under the proposed non-response plan, the city is also proposing to collect permit fees of $100 per business for registration of their alarm system. With those permitting fees, the city would be expected to collect $4 million in permitting fees and fines, which surpasses the $3.5 million cost that the chief has reported as the cost of responding to alarms.
At current, the word is that the Dallas City Council is in favor of Kunkle's recommendations. To stop this precarious push from the council members, alarm industry leaders are encouraging all area dealers and monitoring companies to alert their customers to this proposed law, and to have them call, write and email their council members about their opposition to this proposed policy change. There is a sample letter available from the North Texas Alarm Association that can be used.
A public hearing on the matter is scheduled for Wednesday, Oct. 12, 2005, beginning after 1 p.m. at the Dallas City Hall, and alarm industry persons are encouraged to register to speak at the public hearing and send out last-minute notices to their customers.
Information on how to get involved is provided at Alarminfo.org.
Non-response is also affecting Ventura, Calif. -- see article.