Oct. 27, 2008
Safety Doesn’t Come Cheap

Dear Readers:
The high cost of crime in actual dollars alone should be enough to convince law enforcement that alarms and police need each other. The fact that public safety is at risk is something you cannot put a price on. Yet the value of alarm systems and the cost of police response to alarms continue to be a thorn in everyone’s side.

Effective crime prevention actually saves money. Crime takes a staggering financial toll on communities across the country, according to a new report, Preventing Crime Saves Money, released by the National Crime Prevention Council (NCPC). The report estimates the annual cost of personal and property crime at $428 billion a year. That is $1.2 billion per day, far more than the current estimated costs of recovery from Hurricane Katrina, says the NCPC.

The report looks at the overall impact of crime and uses cost-benefit analysis to show that investment in crime prevention is an effective way for communities to minimize the high price of crime. Why in the world, then, would any municipality ever consider the idea of requiring security companies to verify that a burglary has occurred before an officer is dispatched to investigate the alarm signal? In Long Island’s Suffolk County, NY, where the debate over verified response heated up but the alarms association and SIAC were successful in changing the minds of law enforcement, they are learning not all alarms are false.

Home-invasion robberies in Suffolk and the surrounding counties of Nassau and Queens are on the rise in recent months. For example, in Nassau County, at least 33 break-ins, including more than half that follow a similar pattern, have occurred this year. In some cases, robbers have injured their victims, according to the police reports. The pattern that is really disturbing is the victims are actually in their homes. These homeowners are asleep and they are awoken by masked individuals standing over them with guns, according to Nassau Det. Sgt. John Giambrone of the Robbery Squad.

Throughout Long Island, security professionals’ phones are ringing off the hook with calls from fearful citizens who feel their safety is at risk asking for security options. Down the road are these same people going to be penalized because all of these new alarms systems going online will be taxing police departments’ budgets?

When verified response is being proposed as a solution, certain facts need to be taken into consideration. Homeowners with alarms systems are often required to pay a registration fee for their alarm system as well as fines for excessive false alarms. The amount of money this brings in can offset the cost of police response. The price of knowing the police are not coming can be even greater in relation. It can drive up the crime rate and the costs associated with crime, not to mention the consequences associated with putting the public at risk.