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Alarm Response Protocol Changing - Effective July 2018

 

The Niagara Regional Police Service is dedicated to serving and protecting residents and visitors within the Regional Municipality of Niagara. In partnership with the community we provide quality policing services with integrity, diligence, and sensitivity. One of our core beliefs is developing creative solutions to policing concerns through community oriented policing. Our research indicates that we receive and respond to approximately 6,500 residential and business intrusion alarms each year, 99 per cent of which are deemed false. In order to continue providing the highest level of quality policing possible in an efficient and effective manner, we are transitioning our fee-based False Alarm Reduction Program to a no-fee Verified Alarm Response Program for residential and business intrusion alarms. This is in keeping with evolving practice of police services across Ontario.

Our revised alarm program will take effect on July 1, 2018 and residents and businesses will no longer be accessed a fees for police response to a false alarm. Additionally, effective that date, alarm companies will no longer be required to register their customer information with the NRPS. Instead alarm companies will be required to answer a structured sequence of questions which includes confirmation that the intrusion alarm has been verified.

Effective July 1, 2018 your alarm companies and monitoring agencies must comply with the new alarm verification process prior to requesting a police response. Only alarm companies that comply with the Verified Alarm Response Program procedures will be able to request a police response to your residence or commercial premise. It is your responsibility to ensure that your alarm company is participating in this program

The Niagara Regional Police Service will not accept any intrusion alarm from an alarm company or a monitoring agency that has not been verified. A verified intrusion alarm call called in by your alarm provider will be dispatched to the first available police unit. There are a number of ways that and intrusion alarm can be verified by your alarm company or a monitoring agency; any one of the following would justify a verified dispatch request:

  • audio sensing/signals that confirm criminal activity by the sounds detected within the premise;
  • video monitoring that confirms criminal activity through visual images;
  • confirmation made by an owner, key holder, an alternate response agency, or a witness on scene who can confirm the existence of a suspected criminal act; or
  • multiple alarm activation points whose manner or sequence of activation indicates that suspected criminal activity is, or has taken place

 The Niagara Regional Police will continue to respond to calls service. It will however be the responsibility of your monitoring company or monitoring agency to verify the alarm and determine if a police response is requested prior to contacting the Niagara Regional Police.

The Verified Alarm Response Program only applies to residential and commercial intrusion alarms being reported by your alarm company or monitoring agency. Hold-up (robbery), panic/duress, or registered Mobile Tracking Emergency Response System alarms  called in by an alarm company or monitoring agency are not affected by this change, and will continue to receive priority police response. Similarly an audible only alarm (car or premise) called in by a passerby/neighbour will still be responded to. Audible alarms without some sort of suspicious circumstance will be responded to with a lower priority than an audible alarm accompanied by some suspicious circumstances.

The Niagara Regional Police is committed to providing the most efficient and effective policing services possible and we are seeking your alarm providers' cooperation in enhancing our response to your needs. You are encouraged to talk to your alarm company to ensure they are working in compliance with the Verified Alarm Response Program.

An alarm system can be a valuable tool when used properly.  When choosing a central an alarm provider, we suggest you contact an agency such as the Canadian Security Association at www.canasa.org for more information on how to choose an alarm service provider. It is your responsibility to ensure your alarm system is working in accordance with your agreement your alarm company. 

Questions can be directed to Superintendent Richard Frayne at Richard.Frayne@NiagaraPolice.ca

How Can I Reduce False Alarms?

 

There are several successful false alarm reduction techniques that have been proven to reduce the likelihood of false alarms.

  • Train all Users: Educate all alarm system users on the proper use of the alarm system.
  • Fix Any Problems: Schedule a service call if the alarm is not working properly.
  • Update Contact Info: Make sure the contact numbers on file with your alarm company are always up to date. Be proactive and add your alarm company’s phone number to your cell phone contact list.
  • If You Give Them A Key – Give Them the Codes: To avoid false alarms, ensure that persons with access to your location (Scheduled workers, Maintenance, Cleaners/Cleaning Crews, House or Pet Sitters & Landscapers) have the proper temporary codes and passwords for your alarm system.
  • Cross Zone: This is an alarm monitoring technique that requires more than one zone in your burglar alarm system to fault or trip before public safety is notified.  For example, a perimeter and an interior motion alarm would both have to trip within a specified period of time in order to summon public safety. In this situation, if an interior motion trips but the perimeter does not, the alarm company will not request a public safety dispatch.
  • Follow the ANSI/SIA Control Panel Standard (CP-01): CP-01 is a standard that addresses the settings on control panels to avoid the most common cause of false alarms; user error. Alarm users should ask their alarm companies to use panels that comply with CP-01.
  • Take Care With Pets: Talk to your alarm company about installing pet friendly devices or changing your system design to accommodate pets.
  • Check On Any Displays: Always ensure that hanging or moving decorations will not activate motion detectors, especially when heating systems come on.
  • Take Care When Rearranging: Before rearranging your furniture or putting up the new spring curtains or drapes, first determine whether the design change would interfere with the operation of your motion detectors.
  • Check Before Remodeling: Always contact your alarm company prior to starting any remodeling project. You need to work with your alarm company to make sure the remodeling process does not cause false alarms and that your system will continue to work properly after the work is completed.
  • Check Your Batteries: Like all batteries, your backup has a useful life of about 3 to 5 years, but that life may be shortened if you have had several power outages. Your system battery should be checked annually, or after any storm related false alarm, by an alarm technician and replaced when needed.
  • Use Video or Audio Verification:  When utilized in an electronic security application, it allows the monitoring center to either “hear” or “see” into the protected premise to determine if an intruder is present.

How Should I Use Duress, Hold-Up & Panic Alarms?

 

Duress, hold-up and panic alarms are designed to allow alarm users to activate the system under specific emergency situations when they are unable to dial 9-1-1. These types of alarms generally result in a heightened response, sometimes with lights and sirens, due to a raised likelihood of a criminal event in progress. Therefore, activating these types of alarms in non-emergency situations  is strongly discouraged. It is very important that alarm users understand that activation of these types of alarms in non-emergency or improper situations may place law enforcement officers, alarm users and the general public at increased risk.

 When NOT to use your duress, hold-up or panic alarm:

  • When you need fire or medical assistance
  • To check to see how long it takes law enforcement officers to respond
  • When someone has shoplifted merchandise
  • To report a fight in the parking lot
  • When an underage person attempts to buy alcohol
  • To report that a vehicle has been stolen
  • Any other circumstance in which you are not in a life-threatening or emergency situation

When it is appropriate TO use your duress, hold-up or panic alarm:

  • In emergency situations when you are unable to dial 9-1-1 for law enforcement assistance
  • During a robbery or hold-up in progress
  • When you are physically threatened

** Courtesy of the False Alarm Reduction Association

 

Causes for False Alarms - Human Error or Equipment Malfunction

  1. Inadequate training of people permitted access to your security system (children, neighbors, cleaning personnel, real estate agents, guests, relatives, babysitters, service and delivery personnel, etc.)
  2. Pets, Animals, Rodents, Insects
  3. Incorrect key pad codes
  4. Weak system batteries - (power outages due to weather)
  5. Open, unlocked or loose fitting doors and windows, motions (strong winds), failure to secure doors and windows before turning on the alarm
  6. Drafts from heaters and air conditioning systems that move plants, curtains, balloons, etc.
  7. Sensitive motion sensors - improper application or installation of interior motion detectors
  8. Faulty equipment
  9. Failure to notify monitoring facility of unscheduled openings or closings.

A FALSE ALARM is an alarm signal that elicits a response by Police Officers for which there is no evidence of criminal activity to justify a police response. This simply means that if a police officer responds to an alarm activation and, after investigation, finds no evidence that criminal activity either had occurred or was occurring, the Officer will designate the alarm signal as a false alarm which meets the criteria of a false alarm as defined in the Police Services Board By-law 302-2010 shown below.

Police Services Board By-law 302-2010 - **Changing July 2018**

4. CHARGES FOR FALSE ALARMS

4.1 Where there is a Police Response to a False Alarm, the Alarm System Owner shall be responsible for a fixed charge of $50.00 per False Alarm attendance.

4.2 An Alarm shall not be classified as a False Alarm, if, within forty-eight (48) hours of the police response, the Alarm System Owner or an Alarm Business furnishes evidence to the Finance Unit Manager that the alarm was caused by:

(i) an unauthorized entry into the building, structure or facility:

(ii) an act of a person other than an Alarm Business, the Alarm System Owner or its agents;

(iii) an extraordinary circumstance as determined by the Finance Unit Manager

View more information on Billing and the 12 Municipalities covered by this program.

Fill out the Security Alarm Registration Form here.