The Niagara Regional Police Service (NRPS) recently announced a change to its alarm response protocol.
By Ellen Cools
“We are transitioning our fee-based False Alarm Reduction Program to a no-fee Verified Alarm Response Program for residential and business intrusion alarms,” a public letter from NRPS Superintendent Richard Frayne, Operational Services, reads.
Effective July 1, 2018, alarm companies and monitoring agencies must verify any intrusion alarm before requesting a response from the NRPS. The NRPS will not accept an intrusion alarm if it has not been verified.
There are several instances that would justify a verified dispatch request, including: audio signals and/or video monitoring that confirm criminal activity; confirmation of a suspected criminal act by an owner, key holder, response agency, or witness at the scene; or multiple alarm activation points “whose manner or sequence of activation indicates that suspected criminal activity is, or has taken place.”
Once an intrusion alarm is verified, the NRPS will dispatch the first available police unit.
Speaking with SP&T News, Frayne explains that the NRPS made this change to align their alarm response policy with the way other police services across Canada respond to alarms, and to maximize their efficiency and effectiveness.
The NRPS reports it receives and responds to approximately 6,500 residential and business intrusion alarms each year — 99 per cent of which are false.
This is part of the reason why the Verified Alarm Response Program focuses solely on intrusion alarms, Frayne explains. Hold-up, robbery, panic/duress or registered Mobile Tracking Emergency Response System alarms called in by an alarm company or monitoring agency are not affected by the policy change.
Despite the extra responsibilities placed on monitoring agencies and alarm companies, Frayne says the industry’s reaction has been very supportive.
“We met with CANASA prior to finalizing where we want to go with this and did a bit of a pulse check to see where the industry was on things, and they were supportive of where we were going,” he says.
The NRPS has communicated the change with the industry in several ways — sending a letter to the industry and CANASA about the program and holding a meeting with the industry to answer questions.
“We’ve really tried to give them lots of time in advance — we gave them a couple of months notice on this — so they can work with their customers if they needed to upgrade their equipment,” Frayne continues.
While the potential for miscommunications between monitoring agencies/alarm companies and the police exists, Frayne believes once the companies update their technology and have a good understanding of the program, “it’s actually going to enhance our response.
“They’ll be contacting us when appropriate and we’ll be able to respond actually quicker as a result because we’re not going to be tied up [with false alarms].”
This article originally appeared in the June/July 2018 issue of SP&T News.