In California, a Compromise over a Proposed Verified Response Policy

Proposal would hit just repeat offenders, compromise reached after months of public comment


In what may be a sign of healthy compromise between verified response program supporters and detractors, Simi Valley, Calif., is putting a new kind of verified response policy in effect after a Monday night vote by the City Council.

The new ordinance, which was passed by the City Council on Monday, May 2, 2005, will allow for three false alarms from a home or business before moving the offending alarm owner into a verified response policy that would require that a visiting guard or an actual homeowner or neighbor verify the presence of a break-in before responding.

The ordinance had originally proposed a verified response policy much like the one in existence in Fremont, Calif., but after opening the ordinance up to public comment, the decision to do the "three strikes" policy was decided upon as the one to bring before the City Council.

The ordinance will implement the verified response requirement on homes and businesses with more than three previous false alarms that year, but would apply the rule only between 6 a.m. and 10 p.m. Police will still have the option of broadcasting the alarm notification during that time, but it would be up to the police to decide whether they had the time to respond. During the period of lighter workload, 10 p.m. - 6 a.m., police would respond, even if the alarm had not been verified. The verified response policy will not be applied to any businesses that deal in guns.

The ordinance passed by the City Council also requires a false alarm fine structure, as set out in another part of the Simi Valley code.

According to a report in the Ventura County Star newspaper, 98 percent of alarm calls have been false, and 44 percent of those were residential.

To view a copy of the ordinance, choose the following link: http://www.simivalley.org/Final_Draft_Alarm_Ordinance__4-29-05_.pdf.