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RCMP revising alarm response strategy in Nova Scotia

The RCMP in Nova Scotia are developing a provincial strategy that would require a “verified response” before police respond to alarms.


March 2, 2011
By Neil Sutton
Neil Sutton

The RCMP are in the consultation phase, and are looking for input from home and business owners on a strategy to reduce the number of alarm calls officers respond to annually. In 2009 and 2010, Nova Scotia RCMP spent more than 12,000 hours responding to false alarm calls each year.

RCMP Cpl. David Lilly, Project Manager for the initiative, says, “Our goal is to reduce the number of alarm calls because the statistics show a significant amount of time is spent responding to alarms when no crime has been committed.”

The proposed strategy being considered would see RCMP move to a “verified response” model for single-zone alarm incidents. A verified response means that there is some form of verification that there has been an unwanted intrusion. The simple audible or single-zone alarm incidents will need to be verified by an alarm company or an eye witness (contact person) before the police will attend.

Cpl. Lilly has been working with local security firms and the Atlantic Chapter of CANASA for feedback on how to formulate the policy.

“We’re very lucky and happy that they’re looking to the industry for information before  they actually implement anything,” says Graham MacDonald, president of CANASA’s Atlantic Chapter, and owner of GMD Security in Sydney, N.S. “There have been other places across Canada that haven’t been so lucky.”

Roger Miller, vice-president of operations at Northeastern Protection Service, based in Dartmouth, N.S., helped arrange meetings between the RCMP and CANASA. He says he’s familiar with the false alarm issue and sympathetic of the RCMP’s plight.

“It’s almost down to the individual police officer in some cases whether at four in the morning, he has the resources to go. A policy is better than what exists right now,” he says.

“I applaud the RCMP for two things: (1) they’re creating a policy that they can communicate to the business and residential community so everybody knows where they stand and (2) They’ve consulted with the industry. They could have just gone ahead and rolled this out.”

From Feb. 22 to Mar. 15, the RCMP requested home and business owners provide feedback on the strategy via an online form on the Nova Scotia RCMP web site (www.rcmp-grc.gc.ca/ns/index-eng.htm). A Frequently Asked Questions page can also be found on the site about the proposed changes to alarm response.

“Public Safety, including responding to alarms where crimes are in progress, remains a priority for the RCMP,” says Lilly. “However most citizens are not aware of the significant impact that false alarms have on police resources across Nova Scotia.”

RCMP will continue to be dispatched to multi-zone alarms such as glass breaks, hold-up alarms, panic alarms, and medical alarms etc.

“Once this is rolled out in Nova Scotia, I think you’ll see maybe other police agencies looking at it, and maybe some other RCMP divisions looking at it as well,” says Miller.