Verified Response: A Good Idea?

Dallas Police Chief Kunkle has recommended that the City go to a verified response system for burglar alarms in order to free up police to respond to other crime. The proposal is to require alarm companies to respond first to their burglar alarms, then contact the police only after verifying that an actual crime is occurring. The city would still respond immediately to burglar alarms that are the result of someone pressing a panic button. Residential alarms would no longer require a permit fee. Commercial alarms would still pay a permit fee.

The verified response proposal arose due to the incredibly high rate of false alarms. In 2004, the DPD received about 62,000 burglar alarm calls. Of those, 97% were false alarms (60,100). Responding to these false alarms took approximately 47,000 police officer hours, which equals about 41 full-time police officers at a cost of approximately $3.485 million in police time. This takes our officers away from responding to real crimes in our city.

Many residents have written me to suggest that the City increase the false alarm fee. Unfortunately, the State Legislature has taken away a city’s ability to set false alarm fees, and cities may only charge $50 after the first three false alarms.

I was initially very supportive of the verified response system, given the remarkably high number of false alarms. However, residents have raised some important questions, such as how other cities that have adopted verified response have fared, and I am looking very closely at this issue.

The City Council will likely vote on this issue before the end of the year, though no date has been set yet. I have heard from a lot of folks who have burglar alarms (14% of Dallas residents), but I would like to hear from those who DON’T have burglar alarms (86% of Dallas residents). What are your thoughts on verified response? Please shoot me an email.

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