Toronto: Police Hesitant to Respond to Burglar Alarms


Police argue false burglary alarm response ties up frontline officers, potentially taking them away from real emergencies and wastes valuable resources.

This is an age old discussion between private security and LE: who should respond first to private alarm systems, and what kind of verifivcation should there be, if any, before the police is called? Toronto is following, it seems, in the footsteps of many other cities, states and even countries:

Torontonians may be more vulnerable to burglaries if the police stop sending officersto alarm calls, even if an overwhelming number of calls are false, warns the executive director of the Canadian Security Association.

If police stop responding, “you may be inviting petty thieves to say, ‘Oh now this is becoming more and more easy’ . . . this could result in an increase in break and enters,” J.F. Champagne said Monday.

An internal Toronto Police Services’ steering committee is reviewing the cost-saving potential of scaling back on a variety of services, including alarm response.

Technically, this has been shown to not be true in most places where this measure has had to be implemented to free up police resources and lower the rate of false/nuisance alarm responses. Several security experts seem to agree in LinkedIn’s Security Specialists group here.

Police say false burglary alarm response ties up frontline officers, potentially taking them away from real emergencies, and wastes valuable resources. In 2012, Toronto police responded to 20,000 residential and business alarm calls, all but 300 of them false.

This should be the responsibility of private security. Those 300 false alarms could well prevent vital officers from reaching other calls on time, block up phone lines for others in dire need of help and use resources much better placed in other emergencies. Verification either through crowdsourcing (a neighborhood watch type deal) or by guard service, multiple alarm criteria etc. is widely used, and prevents the majority of false alarms.


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