Detroit Stop Responding to Unverified Alarms

Aug. 16, 2011
In an effort to reduce the number of 911 calls that are false alarms, Detroit Police Chief Ralph Godbee Jr. announced Monday that the department no longer will dispatch officers to investigate a burglar alarm unless an occupant or the alarm company has verified an actual break-in.

In an effort to reduce the number of 911 calls that are false alarms, Detroit Police Chief Ralph Godbee Jr. announced Monday that the department no longer will dispatch officers to investigate a burglar alarm unless an occupant or the alarm company has verified an actual break-in.

Noting that 98% of the alarms that police officers respond to are false, Godbee said the department will require a verified response before sending officers to the location of the alarm. The new policy will take effect Monday.

As more and more police departments face limited resources and budget cuts, Godbee said the logical area of reduction appeared to be unproductive calls for service. He said false alarms are an immense drain on the department's staffing and finances.

"We at the police department are working hard to serve the citizens; however, nowadays we have to rely more on technology to help solve our problems because we're not getting any more resources," said Detroit Police Cmdr. Todd Bettison.

"Our main goal is to respond to crime, and if we can utilize modern technology, then so much the better. We feel very passionate about this," Bettison said. "We've been looking at this for a long time and from what we've observed this is definitely the way to go. Verified response will take us to the next level."

Citing a U. S. Department of Justice report, a department press release said verified response is a reliable practice toward eliminating waste and improving police service. Since 1991, approximately 30 police departments in the U.S. and Canada have adopted the policy, including Las Vegas, Salt Lake City, Milwaukee and Madison, Wis., and Fremont, Calif.

Godbee said verified response will result in significant time savings for police, allowing more time for preventive policing activities while freeing officers to respond to higher priority calls.

Video Security Monitoring of Oak Park is among a handful of local companies that already offer video verification. The company issued a news release Monday touting its service.

VSM's basic verification system includes at least one centrally located camera -- with night vision -- inside a property that allows it to capture video in key areas, such as the entertainment room or living room of a home, where burglars are most likely to strike.

McClatchy-Tribune News Service

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