Texas Puts Landmark Alarm Legislation into Law

Austin, Texas – Texas Governor Rick Perry recently signed landmark legislation that establishes a framework for managing security alarms within the state, the Texas Burglar and Fire Alarm Association (TBFAA) announced. The bill, SB 568, outlines provisions for municipalities to follow when they develop alarm ordinances or policies.

The bill contains significant provisions designed to drive down the number of calls to police to dispatch a vehicle when an alarm proves to be inadvertent. Cutting down the number of these calls saves police resources.

Three key features are included in the bill to help reduce the number of these calls to dispatch police: An industry equipment standard, called CP-01; an escalating fine structure when an alarm proves to be inadvertent; and Enhanced Call Verification (ECV), where the monitoring center places two calls to a customer to determine whether an alarm is valid before contacting law enforcement to dispatch an officer.

"We worked cooperatively with law enforcement and legislators to ensure these standards were put in place to reduce unnecessary dispatches. This a landmark piece of legislation for the industry because it creates statewide standards in Texas," said Malcolm Reed, Chairman of TBFAA's Legislative Committee.

"We appreciate the hard work and involvement of the law enforcement community, and the efforts of several key legislators who believe in the benefits the legislation provides Texans. Everyone committed to the common goal of improving alarm management," said Rodney Hooker, former President of TBFAA and a member of the Legislative Committee.

The CP-01 equipment standard gives alarm users additional time to set the alarm and leave their home or business, and additional time to enter the residence when entering. ECV -- placing two calls to customer to confirm a break-in -- has been demonstrated in several communities across the United States to reduce false dispatches.

Combined with an alarm permit system, which is also included in the legislation, escalating fines also help serve to reduce false dispatches by creating a monetary incentive for the alarm owner to detect and fix errors. "We're pleased to see all these components included in the legislation. They are part of a coordinated, successful plan to address the core problems associated with false dispatches," said Stan Martin, Executive Director or the Security Industry Alarm Coalition (SIAC), an industry group focusing on alarm management issues.

A statement clarifying legislative intent was also included in the conference committee report dealing with a requirement mandating public input. It stated that the intent of the language in SB 568 is "to prohibit cities and municipal police departments from eliminating first response to consumer alarm systems without first holding public hearings where citizen alarm users will have the opportunity to voice concerns or support with such a municipal ordinance or policy."

"We feel it is imperative as part of our country's democratic principles to include this public comment provision, and are grateful to Senator Bob Deuell for inserting the statement of legislative intent," Reed said.