Akron, Ohio, where 98 percent of security alarms turn out to be false, is beginning a new policy requiring confirmation of a possible crime.
The Akron police department’s new policy will require prior verification of need of help before officers respond to an alarm. The policy is scheduled to go into effect March 1.
The shift was announced in December by Chief James Nice, who cited statistics showing that 98 percent of the 10,000 annual alarm calls in Akron turn out to be false.
According to the Akron Beacon Journal, the chief said his depleted force needs to be more efficient.
Security alarm companies complain that the policy change could put the public at risk.
“It’s basically putting the public in danger,” said David Margulies, spokesman for the Security Industry Alarm Coalition, an advocacy business group.
The chief said the alarm industry is fueling fear by sending letters with unsubstantiated claims to residents in order to bolster their business interests.
He said police will continue to respond to panic, emergency and holdup alarms.
“The alarm industry is putting up a misinformation, propaganda front,” Nice said. “The truth is, I just want to do good with APD resources. These (alarm) guys are looking at profits and they want us to be doing their work.”
In the past, two officers would respond to an alarm call from a home or business. And most times, nearly every time, the alarm would be false, Nice said.
Police will now require the 60 or so security companies operating in Akron to first verify the need for an officer before police go to the scene.
Industry proponents say Akron will become the 30th department across the U.S. to employ what is known as a verified response policy.
Margulies said seven other departments have tried a version of the Akron policy and reverted back. There are more than 18,000 agencies across the country.
Margulies said changes in policy in other cities did not result in fewer sales. But he said the policy change will force either citizens or alarm company workers to respond themselves to potentially volatile, in-progress burglaries or break-ins.