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Seattle Police Set New False Alarm Standard

December 10, 2008
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The Seattle Police Department will become one of the first major police departments in the country to begin full enforcement of a law adopted in 2004 designed to reduce the volume of calls they receive from alarm monitoring companies. The new policy goes into effect January 1, 2009, enforcing the law that has been on the books since 2004, mandating alarm monitoring companies to place two verification calls to customers before contacting police. 

This two-call verification procedure is called Enhanced Call Verification or ECV. While ECV has been adopted in many jurisdictions across the country, it often is not enforced by local police departments. Seattle’s plan to enforce the requirement is a major step towards reducing false alarms.

The 2004 ordinance also requires registration of alarm companies who conduct business within the city of Seattle. The alarm ordinance is designed to reduce the number of false alarm activations by instituting measures which have been fully endorsed by the Security Industry Alarm Coalition (SIAC), the International Association of Police Chiefs, and the Washington Burglar & Fire Alarm Association (WBFAA).

“The Seattle Police Department is taking a national leadership role by enforcing ECV,” said Stan Martin, SIAC Executive Director. “They are taking the necessary proactive steps towards ensuring the safety and security of all business and homeowners in Seattle. We have witnessed ECV generate as much as an 80 percent reduction in unnecessary police dispatches in communities throughout the United States. We fully expect significant ongoing reductions in calls for police dispatch as a result of full enforcement.”

On January 1, 2009, the Seattle Police Department will no longer respond to alarm monitoring company dispatch requests that have not followed the ECV procedure.

Also, beginning January 1, the City will enforce the requirement for alarm companies doing business in Seattle to be licensed with the city. Each registered alarm company will be provided with a Unique Identification Number (UIN) and must provide the UIN when calling police and requesting a dispatch to a burglar alarm activation. As with the requirement for ECV, if the requesting alarm company does not have a UIN, their request for a police dispatch will be declined. This new policy will bring all alarm companies into compliance and enhance the police department’s ability to track request for dispatch calls per monitoring company.

“Many cities have alarm ordinances that have failed to achieve significant false alarm reductions because they lacked the means or resolve to enforce their own municipal code,” added Ron Haner, Alarm Response Manager for the WBFAA. “Seattle has reduced unnecessary dispatches to alarms by over 60% since 1999 even while the number of alarms systems in the city is estimated to have doubled. By requiring all monitoring companies to adhere to ECV and be licensed with the city, they will realize another significant reduction in unnecessary alarm dispatches. The city has rightfully put the onus of filtering out the unnecessary calls for emergency service onto the alarm monitoring companies themselves.”

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