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False Alarms Presented by American Crime Prevention Institute.

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1 False Alarms Presented by American Crime Prevention Institute

2 The Problem 95-98% of all alarm calls are false Police responded to 38 million burglar alarms in 1998 – 98% were false In some areas, alarm calls account for 10-30% of all calls for police services It is estimated that 7% of U.S. homes and 40% of U.S. businesses have alarm systems - a total of 7 million systems

3 The IACP estimates that $600 million is spent annually in the U.S. responding to false alarms that consume 6.5 million personnel hours The Justice Dept. reports that false burglar alarm police responses would free up 35,000 police officers nationwide

4 There has been a rapid growth in the alarm industry in the 1970’s, 80’s and 90’s Declining prices of alarm systems Introduction of retail sales of alarm equipment Fear of crime

5 The Result Unnecessary police dispatches Consume officer time Waste fuel Increase the risk of accidents Cause wear and tear on equipment Reduce police service to areas with greater need for officer presence Overtime, erode officer caution

6 Loss of alarm’s deterrent value Projected growth in the use of alarms portends a worsening problem

7 Types of Security-Related Alarms Intrusion Detection Alarm - “Burglar Alarm” Hold-Up Alarms Duress Alarms - “Panic Buttons” Delayed-Egress Alarm - usually monitored locally Personal Security Alarm - usually monitored locally Propped Door Alarm Restroom Duress Alarms Personal Battery-Powered Alarms

8 What Is A False Alarm? One definition of false alarm includes alarm signals that occur when no intrusion has been attempted. Another definition includes alarms caused by user or mechanical error but not those caused by severe weather, power outages, or telephone line disorders. “Nuisance alarms” are unwanted alarm system activations in which a sensor properly responds to a stimulus, but the stimulus is not a burglar.

9 “True false alarms” are system activations due to mechanical defects “False dispatches” are unnecessary requests for police assistance that may result from nuisance alarms, true false alarms or errors by alarm monitoring stations.

10 What Causes False Alarms? Technological errors - are decreasing Installation errors - also application errors User errors - cause 40-60% of false alarms Inadequate user training Complexity of alarm system controls Lack of maintenance Changes in use of protected site Use of older, less reliable systems

11 Possible Solutions to the Alarm Problem Technical - improved alarm technology and installation - possibly state certification for installers Customer Education and Public Awareness False Alarm School - Oxnard, CA Police Dept.  Attendance dismisses one City of Oxnard false alarm fine (at least $75.00)  The problem of false alarms  Laws relating to false alarms

12  Identifying a reputable alarm company  Why do false alarms occur?  Your rights as an alarm owner  Is your alarm system right for you?  Dealing with your central station  How to handle a false alarm activation

13 Eight Easy Ways to Prevent False Alarms (from Anaheim, CA Police Dept.)  Train each person who will be using the alarm system. Anyone with a key to your door must be trained - and that includes neighbors, janitors, and others who only use the system occasionally, Have each person actually turn the system on and off - don’t just explain it to them verbally. If you change the code, be sure everyone with a door key is notified.  Know how to cancel a false alarm. Have your alarm company’s phone number handy. Know the code number or password needed to cancel a false alarm.  Check all doors and windows before turning on the alarm. Make sure all doors and windows are closed and locked, even if they are not on the alarm. Some alarm sensors can be affected by wind gusts, noise, birds, and animals which can enter through unprotected openings.

14  Don’t block beams or motion detectors. Partially blocked beams or motion detectors can become overly sensitive and cause false alarms. Blocked detectors can be come overly sensitive and cause false alarms. Blocked detectors can also reduce or eliminate your alarm protection.  Be sure there’s no motion in areas protected by motion detectors. Balloons, moving signs, and falling boxes can all cause false alarms. Do not allow animals in areas protected by motion detectors unless the system was specifically designed to work with animals present.  Don’t turn off the electrical power to the system. Standby batteries don’t last forever. Know which circuit breakers control the power to the alarm system, and don’t turn them off.

15  Treat you alarm system with care. Wiring and detection devices can be accidentally damaged, and false alarms can result. Notify your alarm company of any damage, and never attempt to repair the system yourself.  If your system uses opening and closing schedules, each alarm user must know about them. Some businesses have alarm systems, which must be turned on and off at prearranged times each day. Opening before the scheduled opening time or on a day the business is scheduled to be closed, is a common cause of false alarms. Each user must be aware of the opening and closing schedule, and also must know the proper procedure for opening outside normally scheduled hours.

16 Overland Park, KS Police Dept. PowerPoint-based Presentation Local Ordinances and State Laws Approximately 2,000 cities and counties employ false alarm laws - also a few states Most ordinances allow a fixed number of “free” false alarms before imposing a series of fines Some ordinances require users to register their alarm systems

17 After a certain number of false alarms, some ordinances require users to prove they have repaired their systems Some ordinances allow the police to have a policy of not responding to a particular users’ alarms after a certain number of false calls Some ordinances require users to provide the police with names of persons who can come to the alarm site with keys and the ability to reset the alarm Some ordinances require alarm companies to verify alarms by one method or another before calling the police

18 Some ordinances require alarm installers to be trained and registered The degree of false alarms reduction from implementation of local false alarm laws vary from insignificant to 50% Fines for Excessive False Alarms Permits - Provide Standards

19 Non Police Response - after a certain number of false alarms - provide procedures for reinstatement Private Response Time-of-Day Differentiation Some police departments require telephone verification of commercial alarms during business hours - respond without verification at night

20 CUSTOMER FALSE ALARM PREVENTION CHECKLIST Please review the checklist below. If you answer “No” to any of these questions, please contact your alarm company for additional information and/or training. Remember: The police are counting on you to prevent false alarms. YES NO (Check One) ____ ____ I have been trained in the proper operation of the alarm system. ____ ____ I have been given a summary operating sheet. ____ ____ I have been given the security system operating manual. ____ ____ I know how to cancel an accidental alarm activation.

21 ____ ____ I have the cancellation code. ____ ____ I know how to turn off motion detectors while leaving other sensors on. ____ ____ I know how to test the system, including the communication link with the monitoring center. ____ ____ I understand the length of the delay time on designated entry/exit doors and I believe this will provide sufficient time to get in and out of the premises. ____ ____ I have the alarm company phone number to request repair service or to ask questions about the alarm system.

22 ____ ____ I understand that indoor pets can cause false alarms and I will contact my alarm company to adjust the alarm system if I acquire any additional indoor pets. ____ ____ I have been offered the option of a training/no dispatch period. ____ ____ I know where the main control panel and transformer are located. ____ ____ I have received an alarm sheet which describes how the alarm company will communicate with me in the event of various alarm signals. ____ ____ I understand the importance of keeping my emergency contact information updated and I know how to do this.

23 ____ ____ I understand the importance of immediately advising the alarm company if my phone number changes (including area code changes). ____ ____ I have been made aware of the alarm ordinance, if any, that governs the operation of system and I will comply with applicable requirements (permits, fees, etc.). ____ ____ I will advise the alarm company if I do any remodeling to my home or business. ____ ____ I understand that certain building defects (such as loose fitting doors or windows, rodents, inadequate power, and roof leaks) can cause false alarms. I will correct these defects as I become aware of them.

24 ____ ____ The alarm company has given me written false alarm prevention techniques to help me prevent false alarms. ____ ____ I understand it is my responsibility to prevent false alarms and I understand it is my responsibility to assure that all users of the alarm system (residents, employees, guests, cleaning people, and repair people) are trained on the proper use of the alarm system.

25 New LAPD Alarm Policy In January of 2003, The Los Angeles Police Department, under new Chief William J. Bratton, adopted a new alarm response policy. LAPD will not respond to burglar alarms unless alarms are verified as genuine by a property owner or private security company

26 New policy does not apply to duress alarms. For LAPD, 92% of 135,000 burglar alarms annually are false. LAPD estimates Los Angeles will save the equivalent of $11 million in payroll costs annually with the new policy.

27 THANK YOU The American Crime Prevention Institute is a division of the AEGIS Protection Group, Inc. Thank You

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