Searching for the Solution to Effective Alarm Management

Industry and police leaders discuss enhanced call verification, ways to reduce false alarms at AFSE 2005


Old habits are hard to break, which is why the false alarm problem started in the first place. Collectively, however, the industry is making strides to change the negative image brought about by false alarms.

Putting a positive spin on the issue means dropping the term false alarm from your vocabulary. Replace it with "effective alarm management." When you effectively manage alarms, you reduce false dispatches and free up law enforcement resources. Now, doesn't that sound better? I had the pleasure of discussing the topic recently with respected leaders in alarm management when I monitored a panel on, ironically, "Effective Alarm Management: A Public Safety Symposium."

Held during the America's Fire & Security Expo (AFSE) in Miami, Fla., panel members included: Ron Walters, Director, Security Industry Alarm Coalition (SIAC); Sergeant Patty Bimonte, Miami-Dade Police Department, Intergovernmental Bureau/False Alarm Unit; and Doug Bassett, General Manager, Brink’s Home Security, West Palm Beach, Fla.

Much of the success in alarm management is directly related to Enhanced Call Verification. It involves making two or more calls to a customer verifying that the alarm signal the central station received requires police dispatch. According to Ron Walters, as much as a 50 percent reduction in requests for police dispatch can be realized by utilizing this practice.

Sergeant Patty Bimonte agrees. She feels that the programs that have been implemented in Miami help bring her closer to that number each year.

"I don't know if there is a number you can reach that police departments will accept as low enough," says Bimonte. "What I try to do is just have the reduction get better each year. You reach one level and then, the next year, strive for a higher percentage of reductions."

According to Brink's Doug Basset who interacts with Brinks alarm dealers on the Treasure Coast and Palm Beach County areas of Florida, dealers are happy to initiate Enhanced Call Verification. Throughout the country, all new Brinks accounts are set up for two-call verification.

Also in attendance at this event was Glen Mowrey, Deputy Chief (Retired), Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department. Mowrey works closely with the Chiefs of Police and is the national law enforcement liaison with SIAC. He indicated that the industry's efforts are being recognized by law enforcement. In fact, according to him, both Georgia and Tennessee will be implementing Enhanced Call Verification as a required standard in their states.

Effective alarm management is sweeping the nation. As a result, the value of the security system as playing an important role in public safety is being realized.

About the author: Susan Brady is the editor-in-chief of Security Dealer, a sister publication to SecurityInfoWatch.com.