False alarms, a lawsuit and Salt Lake City

April 19, 2010

Salt Lake City, Utah, has been one of the cities which trade publications, alarm association directors and industry lobbyists reference when they're writing about or speaking on the topic of false alarms and verified-response policies. In fact, the city has had a verified response policy in place since December 2000 that requires visual verification of an alarm before police will be dispatched. The policy has stayed in place, much to the chagrin of the alarm industry, and it's come with its share of antagonism, mostly between the Salt Lake City alarm administrator and the local firms providing alarm monitoring services.

Such was the case in the summer of 2003, when an apparent break-in at a local school was dispatched by an employee of Peak Alarm based on a verification. Unfortunately, the dispatch call was mistakenly made based on the presumption that the break-in was verified by a Peak guard, not a school employee, and relayed to police that way. What followed was that the alarm company individual who reported the break-in was prosecuted criminally (because he said it was a guard who verified the alarm, and not a school employee). The employee ended up having the charges dismissed because there wasn't evidence that he intentionally lied about who verified the alarm (my question is: Why would it matter who verified the alarm, and why would a guard's verification generate police dispatch and a school employee's verification not generate dispatch?).

In a current lawsuit, PEAK ALARM COMPANY, INC. v. SALT LAKE CITY CORPORATION, the individual from Peak Alarm who made the call for response has filed a civil case against Salt Lake City, alleging "false arrest/false imprisonment, malicious prosecution, violation of the Utah Citizen Participation in Government Act, tortious interference with existing and prospective business relations, intentional infliction of emotional distress, conspiracy to violate constitutional rights, defamation, negligence, deprivation of federal constitutional rights" and more violations.

It's hard to say where this case might go (I'm no lawyer, and not prepared to comment on it), but it certainly demonstrates the sad state of affairs in Salt Lake City between alarm firms and the police.

P.S. the full case summary is a good read. Give yourself a full cup of coffee to peruse it.


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