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Verified Alarm Solutions to Staffing Problems

NCJ Number
Law and Order: The Magazine for Police Management Volume: 55 Issue: 2 Dated: February 2007 Pages: 32-34
James Careless
Date Published
February 2007
3 pages
This article promotes the use of “verified burglary alarms” to reduce police department budgetary constraints.
The main points made throughout the article are that: (1) at least 96 percent of burglar alarm activations are false alarms (U.S. Department of Justice), and (2) police departments that respond only to verified burglar alarms can save their already tight resources and free officers for other police business. The Freemont Police Department in the Silicon Valley area found itself in a tight budgetary spot after the decline of the dot.com industry. Making matters worse was the fact that in 2004, only 12 of the roughly 7,000 activated alarms were actual burglaries. Yet, police officers had to respond to all 7,000 alarm activations, costing the department 5,000 person hours and $600,000 in 2004 alone. In response to this budgetary crisis, the Freemont Police Department had to lay off 24 officers, bringing the number of sworn officers down to 0.88 officers for every 1,000 residents, one of the lowest percentages in the United States. In an effort to avoid further layoffs, the Chief of Police created a policy in which officers would only respond to verified burglary alarms, which are made by the alarm/monitoring company via video or Webcam visual systems or with a sound feed system. The policy was announced to the community, which largely accepted the reasoning of the department. The result has been a 72 percent decrease in police dispatch rates, which has freed officers for higher priority duties. Moreover, the recent 14-percent increase in the city’s burglary rate is actually lower than the double-digit burglary growth experienced in nearby cities. Exhibits


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