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Posted: 1/8/2003 1:47:40 PM EDT
From the LA Times at:

[b]LAPD to Plug Its Ears on Many Alarms[/b]
By Richard Winton, Times Staff Writer

Over strenuous objections, the Los Angeles Police Commission approved a special order Tuesday directing officers to stop responding to burglar alarms unless they are verified as genuine by a property owner or private security company.

At the urging of Chief William J. Bratton, commissioners unanimously approved the change, sought for almost a decade by a succession of police leaders. The chief and panel members said the move is necessary because 92% of 136,000 alarm calls annually are false, wasting police time and money.

The policy would not apply to so-called panic alarms, which people must activate. In those cases, police would respond immediately.

Otherwise, verification by the property owner, by the security company or by video monitoring would be required before the LAPD responded on an urgent basis.

Police officers at present treat alarms as non-priority calls, and are allowed an hour to respond. That policy was adopted in 1998 after a similar attempt to restrict alarm response failed. A proposal in 1994 also failed.

"It is 15% of the time we spend on patrol responding to that. That is time I can use for other purposes on directed patrol dealing with more significant crime problems," Bratton said. "Other cities who've implemented" such a policy "have not found it had an adverse effect on their crime problem. It has in fact freed up their resources "

But security companies, among the most generous and influential political contributors, vowed to take the issue to the City Council.

Their representatives packed Tuesday's commission meeting, warning that verification requirements would hurt as many as 300,000 households and businesses in Los Angeles with alarm systems.

Although city permits for 140,000 alarms are in force, industry officials estimated that more than twice that number actually exist.

The council can review the commission decision, but only if two-thirds of its members agree to do so -- a significant political hurdle, observers said. The alarm lobby has hired Cerrell Associates Inc., a high-powered lobbying firm that has long served as a political advisor to some council members, to represent its position. Mayor James K. Hahn has not yet taken a position on the issue, aides said.

Many of those attending the meeting accused the LAPD of leaving them in the lurch, complaining that they cannot afford the high costs of video cameras or guards that would be needed to confirm a burglary. All 29 people who sought to speak Tuesday opposed the proposal. Many security companies had mailed warnings to customers and asked them to inundate City Hall with letters of opposition.

"When a criminal learns you won't respond, that criminal is going to have a field day," said Lois Medlock, a senior citizen with an alarm in South Los Angeles.

False alarms, considered a national problem, are often triggered by faulty equipment, mistakes by employees or homeowners, the wind or even animals. The International Assn. of Chiefs of Police estimates that about $600 million is spent annually in the United States responding to false alarms that use up 6.5 million personnel hours.

Alarm ownership has spiraled, often as police response times have lengthened because of greater demands and fewer resources, authorities said.

Los Angeles Police Lt. Debra Kirk, who oversaw the development of the new policy, said it can't go into effect until 10 business days have passed, giving the council time to review the commission action if it chooses. The commission believes the dispatch policy can be implemented without changing the city ordinance governing alarm users, she said, but the department will also seek to amend the law.

Lessing Gold, an attorney for the alarm industry, said the commission lacks the legal power to make the change without council approval.

George Gunning of U.S. Alarm Systems Inc. and former president of the California Alarm Assn. said: "I think the City Council has much wider concerns than the commission. They'll listen to our clients: the voters of Los Angeles.

Said Bob Harris of Pacific Alarm Systems: "The folks in South-Central can't afford to have video verification at 1,500 to 2,000 bucks a pop, plus the monthly" fee.

Police Commission President Rick Caruso said that the industry has made no real effort to reduce false alarms and that fines have had little impact. "The alarm industry needs to get into gear," he said. "We've been discussing this for months."

Commissioner David Cunningham III agreed. "The reality is: We have to deal with issues of deployment," he said. "We're not taking a vote that says we don't care about your safety."

Under the new policy, verified alarms would become priority calls, which require a response within 15 minutes, police said. Both policies require immediate responses to alarms at firearms businesses.

Los Angeles has tried a plethora of regulatory solutions to the false-alarm problem, including stiffer fines for repeat offenders. That move reduced the false alarm rate to 92% from 98%. But false alarms, Kirk said, remain a substantial drain on a department that is spread thin, with 9,200 officers policing more than 400 square miles.

An alarm permit costs $31. Owners are not charged for the first two false calls in any 12-month period, but are fined $80 for succeeding false alarms.

Police estimate that the city will save the equivalent of $11 million in payroll costs with the new policy, money that can be redirected to other uses. That doesn't take into account the potential loss of $5.5 million in income from false alarm fines and alarm permit fees.

The special order approved Tuesday is similar to one in Salt Lake City, where false alarm calls to police plummeted about 90% practically overnight after an ordinance went into effect in 2000, said Shanna Werner, alarms administrator for the police there.

According to an LAPD report, alarm calls are a low priority in Chicago and New York. Similarly, the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department gives such calls low priority except when they are from silent robbery alarms. Long Beach and Beverly Hills police, however, make responses to alarm calls a priority.

Anthony Smith, another past president of the California Alarm Assn., said the Los Angeles Police Commission's action shows no appreciation for the fact that the calls get patrol cars out into neighborhoods, where the police presence is an important crime deterrent.

Alarm company owners said Tuesday that most false alarms come from a handful of problem security firms.

In most cases, security company officials say, the problem is a failure to train property owners in how to operate their systems.

In a letter to the commission, industry officials suggested that verification be adopted only for so-called habitual or chronic false alarm properties. They noted that the City Council in 1994 approved a motion setting up a task force to make recommendations.

Sgt. Christopher Vasquez of the LAPD's North Hollywood Division said officers respond to false alarms practically every day.

"Certainly, our resources our depleted when we respond to any kind of a call," he said.
Comment: The LAPD is a major organization, I think we are going to be seeing a general trend. Too bad the Liberals are clueless, thinking that the police will protect them.

Link Posted: 1/8/2003 2:15:24 PM EDT
Link Posted: 1/8/2003 2:51:10 PM EDT
I don't blame them either. The burglar alarm companies have been getting a free ride all this time. Now the  alarm companies have to send a out a real person to check the situation out which is going to cost their client money, which means that they will have less clients.

I think the solution would be to charge a realistic fee for these false alarms. Something on the order of $1,000 bucks or something like that after the 2 or 3rd false alarm. Of course the offender could then charge it back to the alarm company for faulty equipmet etc.
Link Posted: 1/8/2003 2:54:59 PM EDT
Well..I can't blame them either..however it does point out the severe limitations in manpower and time resources that police departments have. Thus highlighting the futility of an arguement that police can protect everyone and their property.

This isn't even mentioning US Supreme Court Rulings...it is just a practicality issue.

Hence, nothing beats reaching for the trusty 1911 instead of dialing 911.

At the very least you will 1911 response time of 1 second versus an hour for 911...

Link Posted: 1/8/2003 8:46:10 PM EDT
Hence, nothing beats reaching for the trusty 1911 instead of dialing 911.

At the very least you will 1911 response time of 1 second versus an hour for 911...
View Quote

911 is over-hyped. My brother-in-law had an ashtmas attack, and his friend call 911. He was put on hold  and the ambulance didn't show up for somthing like 30 minutes later, my brother-in-law later died at the hospital.
Link Posted: 1/8/2003 8:52:27 PM EDT
Link Posted: 1/8/2003 9:21:48 PM EDT
Here, the PD will charge you $50 for each false alarm and if you ring in more than four in a year you will get fined for being a public nuisanse.
Link Posted: 1/8/2003 10:15:07 PM EDT
Over strenuous objections, the Los Angeles Police Commission approved a special order Tuesday directing officers to stop responding to burglar alarms unless they are verified as genuine by a property owner or private security company.
View Quote

Sure, a burglar alarm is REAL useful if the police only show up when I'm home to call and tell them it's not a false alarm. [rolleyes]

The idea of charging for false alarms though is a good one.

Bratton was a self-serving media hound in Boston, doing pretty much the same thing when in New York rubbed Mayor Guliani the wrong way.
Link Posted: 1/9/2003 1:47:55 AM EDT
In 10 years i have never responded to a burglar alarm and found a burglar or even a house than had been burglarized. 10 years of false alarms, and I get at least one a day. That's alot of wasted man hours.

Brinks can hire rent a cops to check their clients homes.
Link Posted: 1/9/2003 3:34:45 AM EDT
Sounds like they're going down a list of "we ain't going to do this", LAPD announced yesterday that they were not going to chase vehicles for non felony offenses. So if you are caught speeding, just put the pedal down. Can't wait to here in a year where Kali is. Releasing 1000's of felons early, can't find 30,000 perverts, no guns, won't go to alarm calls, won't get involved in vehicle chases. If I was a hard core career criminal in Kali, I'd be dancing a little jig right now.
Link Posted: 1/9/2003 4:37:47 AM EDT
Sounds like they're going down a list of "we ain't going to do this", LAPD announced yesterday that they were not going to chase vehicles for non felony offenses. So if you are caught speeding, just put the pedal down. Can't wait to here in a year where Kali is.
View Quote

As I understood it, LA County is one of the few places where the policy [i]was[/i] to give chase for non-felony offenses. Most other places considered it not worth the risk to other citizens. Any LEOs out here that can chime in?

Link Posted: 1/9/2003 4:47:59 AM EDT
what do you expect from a place that is 35 billion dollars in debt?
remember that 007 flic where christophe walken was gonna set off a charge at the fault and drop cali into the sea?
i still wake up at night thinking about that movies.
Link Posted: 1/9/2003 4:55:30 AM EDT
LAPD has instituted a very restrictive chase policy.

Almost immediatley after putting that policy into effect it was blatantly violated by an officer, chasing a speeder. There was a chase, that led to shooting, and a crash. A slew of charges, and warrants were discovered after the crash. Bratton then turned about and said "nice job" to the officers involved.

Every dept gets to make their own policy on chases. Under Bratton Boston wnet to a "no-chase" policy, no matter what. They would also report any chases to the Mass State Police, who WOULD chase. So I think it wasn't about public safety so much as "liability".

There are agencies that are "always chase", and "never chase" agencies. Most seem somewhere in the middle. There has to be an evaluation of the chase, based on the severity of the offsense, risk to the public if the offneder escapes, road, traffic, and other conditions. Basically the decsion to chace has to balance the need to capture vs. the risk.

Plus I think the Felony vs Non-Felony chase reasoning is flawed. Most place will chase for Reckless Driving or DUI, but won't chase for a slew of non-violent felonies. What they look for is more crimes against persons, stuff like domestics where if the offender escapes, they will probably return to where the victim is an reintiate the attack.

In most place trying to Elude the police is a felony.

LA has something like 7,800 cops. New York with a similar area, daytime population has 35,000 cops. It used to be 3,500 to 28,000  but LA started hiring more cops. You can only do so much work per officer. If you aren't allowed to hire more officers, you have to decide what type of calls that your available officers will respond to.
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