The North Bay Police Service is putting together a new Security Alarm Policy that it hopes to present to the North Bay Police Board in September.
Inspector Jeff Warner made a presentation to the Police Board on Tuesday and unveiled the alarmingly high levels of false alarms that the police service has to deal with annually on residential and commercial properties.
Warner claims the police had responded to more than 2,000 false alarm calls in the past two years at an incredible rate of 95 per cent of calls being false.
"There is a risk to the public when more often than not they end up being false alarms," Warner said about residential and commercial false alarms.
"The risk to public safety far outweighs the need to catch the suspect in the act, while likely responding to a false alarm."
Warner notes that a second false alarm call comes with a 69 dollar ticket which includes suspension to responses to the premises within 7 days of the date of the invoice with payment resulting in the reinstatement of the service.
"In 2019 and 2020 we received very little payment from the invoices that were distributed," said Warner.
Warner says these false intrusion alarms tax their already stretched manpower situation.
"Multiple officers could be tied up from a half an hour to 45 minutes before clearing the call and returning to other duties," said Warner.
It makes police question their priorities.
Is it more urgent to respond to a potential domestic disturbance over a commercial property alarm that ends up being a security sensor that was set off by high winds?
Other examples are sensor malfunctions, accidental alarm triggering when employees enter the building and put in an incorrect code that really do not require a police response.
"We are seeing a trend where more and more businesses are installing alarm systems to protect their property and their inventory but they rely solely on a police response which is subsidized by the taxpayer to ensure their interests are protected," said Warner.
Warner says they have to continue to look at other ways to modernize their approach and use police resources in more efficient ways so officers are where they are needed the most.
"We have to look at creative ways to increase our efficiency and the effectiveness of our police response," he said.
"False alarms tie up precious police resources creating situations where our officers are sometimes unavailable to handle real emergencies that put the community at risk."
Warner says the trend for police services is to put more responsibility for protecting property back in the hands of the commercial property owners.
"Many police agencies are no longer responding to intrusion alarms on commercial properties unless there is a confirmation or verification of criminal activity."
That can come by responses visual responses through the alarm company through cameras installed in and around the building or confirmation from onsite security personnel.
"Businesses have an obligation to evaluate their current security systems and invest some money into protecting their business instead of relying on a rapid police response to catch offenders.
"The responsibility for ensuring that police are required prior to contacting them, should be placed squarely on the commercial property owner so we can continue to deploy police resources in a more effective and more efficient and intelligence-based manner."
The police will gather more information in the next two months in hopes of creating a better and safer system.