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Self-regulate or the police will do it for us

In an increasingly security conscious society, it was inevitable that regulation of the electronic security sector would rear its head in Ontario. Quebec addressed this issue when it passed Bill 88 in 2005. British Columbia rammed Bill 15 through the legislature in 2007. Nova Scotia’s review of private security legislation in 2007 has slowed to a crawl subsequent to the industry’s demand for meaningful consultations. What was unexpected was the source of the proposed regulatory authority, and the business drivers putting de-facto regulation on the public agenda. In Ontario, the first step toward government regulation didn’t come from the province; the Ministry of Community Safety and Correctional Services has its hands full with the implementation of Bill 159, which regulates private investigators and security guards. In fact, the first move toward regulation in Ontario isn’t even province-wide; it came in the form of a sweeping ‘Alarms Management Program Service Agreement’ (Service Agreement) authorized in a municipal by-law in the Regional Municipality of Durham.


March 13, 2008
By Kenneth Mitchell

The Durham Service Agreement purports to govern the circumstances in
which the Durham Regional Police Service will respond to an alarm
dispatch. In fact, the Service Agreement, as currently in force,
dictates the scope of business service provided by central monitoring
stations with accounts in the Region. The Service Agreement requires
annual registration of central stations, ULC listing, lists of
accounts, and minimum levels of liability insurance. The Service
Agreement establishes protocols for reporting changes in customer
information, alarm dispatch, prioritization of police response, and
central station record-keeping. Although the Durham agreement targets
central stations, it is clear that its impact will filter down to every
dealer and installer doing business in the Region.

In a meeting held at Durham Regional Police Service headquarters,
involving police staff, regional lawyers, and CANASA representatives,
Chief Mike Eweles put the police service’ case succinctly. “I’m tired
of having my police officers manage the business relationship between
your businesses and our taxpayers,” he said. “I think that when my
officers attend a false alarm, they spend more time advising your
customers about what set off the alarm and how to operate their systems
than you (the alarm industry) do. I want you to do your job, and let us
do ours.” Although ethical and professional dealers and installers
would take issue with the Chief, it is prudent to acknowledge the
legitimacy of his position.

Durham is demanding high levels of compliance with a narrow, but
accessible segment of the industry — central stations. Police
departments across the country are watching the Durham initiative. We
cannot be content to manage the false dispatch issue, we must find
solutions.

Ken Mitchell is Executive Director of CANASA.