My opinion on licensing...and the response

March 10, 2011

My opinion on licensing…and the response

I recently posted a blog stating my opinion on the proposed New York licensing bill I received the following response from Joseph Hayes, president of the New York Burglar and Fire Alarm Association.  What follows first are his comments, in their entirety, and then my response.

“I am responding to your recent article opposing the implementation of a license to regulate the monitoring industry in New York State, i.e. the "Article 6E legislation".  There are several issues which I would like to explore, that may not have been brought to your attention by either the proponents or opponents of the proposed legislation. 

But before I do that, a couple of corrections are in order. I was taught that the primary function of journalism and journalists is to report the facts regarding an issue and allow the readers to make informed decisions, not to form and publish an opinion, unless that opinion is labeled, loud and clear as just that, an editorial opinion. 

Secondly, while you are correct that there are approximately 3,400 licensed "alarm companies" and our association represents some 355, many of the licensed companies are primarily electricians who obtained the alarm license as part of their regular light, heat and power offerings.  My reading of the numbers stated in your article would lead an uninformed person to believe that the NYBFAA is irrelevant. Nothing could be further from the truth, as the NYBFAA is the predominant alarm association in the state of New York, with eight local chapters providing representation and member benefits throughout all the counties of the State. Our industry market penetration is on par with or better than that of other industries.

Now, please allow me to shed some additional light on the issue at hand. First, let me state that as President, I appoint committees to address issues, give those committees goals and objectives and then get out of their way.  I am not, repeat, not voicing an opinion of the proposed legislation, either in its present form, or in some future revised form. That task will rest with our board of directors, based on the guidance garnered from the hearings of Feb. 10, the communications received from interested parties and from a "straw poll" currently being mailed to all members of the NYBFAA.

Even after all the discussion, there are some issues which have not been brought to everyone's attention regarding the need for the proposed legislation.  Here in NY State, companies engaged in "the business of installing, servicing and maintaining security and fire alarm systems" are licensed and regulated by article 6D of the NY State "General Business Law" or GBL.  This law requires that all companies initiate a fingerprint and subsequent background check of all their employees (including those who, while not making premise visits to customers, have access to customer information).  Now comes the first issue. A licensed company performs an installation, gathers information from the customer, such as pass codes, call lists, opening and closing times, vacation schedules, and then forwards that information to a third party monitoring facility ("central station").  My first concern is, does the monitoring station perform the same due diligence of their employees that the licensed installation company does, based on license requirements?  From what I gathered at the Feb 10th meeting the answer is "yes, no, sometimes and maybe, and yes with exceptions".  Until that background check is mandated, a serious gap exists in the security we are providing to the end user, our valued clients. 

Another point that was not mentioned by the opponents was that while having a NY State license to monitor in NY was claimed to be "ineffective, unenforceable, expensive, intrusive", and whatever else, it is one thing for sure, and that is supreme to any local town, village or city license regulating the same operations. What I am getting to here is that having a State license precludes localities from passing their own ineffective, unenforceable, expensive, and intrusive legislation. a state license will protect monitoring stations from local communities who, whether well intentioned or only wanting to raise revenue, pass their own laws regulating monitoring stations.

In closing, I would like to thank you for your interest in this matter and your publication of the views of the interested parties. I do request that you publish the above comments, in their entirety, without editing.”-- Joseph Hayes, President, NYBFAA


My response to Joseph Hayes

“I thank you for your comments and responding to my blog. As an award-winning journalist and member of the Society of Professional Journalists, Sigma Delta Chi and The Chicago Headline Club I am fully aware of the role of a professional journalist and continue to follow my ‘creed’ to the letter of its extent.

I believe you are referring to my blog on, which in effect is an editorial opinion—an online one—and one in which I decided to take a certain stance based on the issues at hand and the opinion I received from talking to both opponents and proponents. Therefore, it is an editorial opinion, but one which was formed by the true letter of the law of journalism—looking at both sides of the story. In addition, although I contacted you directly for opinion via telephone prior to that, and I also spoke in length to Dale Eller, I did not receive a telephone call in return.  I have talked to John Lombardi several times and he remains a good source and contact for me on this issue. I also did a precursor story in the February issue of SD&I magazine ( in which I simply presented the facts, in the matter you represent as being “the primary function of journalism and journalists.”

I am happy to publish your comments in my blog as a ‘counterpoint.’ However, as the editor in chief of one of the long-running and highly respected publications in the industry, I do reserve the right to edit for space and content.

I thank you for writing and for your pursuit of professionalism in the industry.”—Deborah O’Mara, editor in chief, Security Dealer & Integrator magazine




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