In Georgia, the Richmond County Sheriff’s Office has adopted a verified response program in an effort to stem the number of false dispatches to nuisance alarm calls. 

Located along the state’s eastern border with South Carolina, the city of Augusta serves as the county seat. According to the Sheriff’s website, from 2018 to 2021, approximately 83,000 alarm activations were reported to the county’s 911 center. The Richmond County Sheriff’s Office responds to about 20,000 burglar alarms annually, 98.9% of which are false. Of the reported incidents, an intruder was almost never found at the residence, according to the Sheriff’s website. 

With the new verified response procedure, law enforcement will respond to an activated home or business alarm if one of three criteria is met: 

  • confirmation by the alarm user at the alarm site or via self-monitored audio/visual equipment
  • audible and/or visual evidence provided by a monitored alarm system
  • an eyewitness (visual on-scene verification of a break-in). 

Since 2019, county administrators have been studying ways to effectively reduce false alarms, Field Operations Captain Danny Whitehead told 

“It can range anywhere from 12 minutes to 20 minutes, per call and if you break that down that’s 57 calls a day,” Whitehead  said. “So our goal has been for the last couple of years to find ways to combat that to see if we can take our resources and make sure they aren’t diverted from other public services or areas of need.” 

The Sheriff’s Office launched verified response on Aug. 16 with positive results already being felt, Whitehead said. “We were averaging 400 false alarms every seven days. I know it’s a small sample. But, we looked … at the first seven days and we did see a decrease of 85% of the false alarms.” 

The Sheriff’s Office believes this will allow them to prioritize people over property. With the free time, it will also allow them to put resources in areas where they are needed. “This is going to give us time to increase our patrols in the neighborhoods or to do business checks. So, more of a high visibility in the areas, ” Whitehead said. 

Locations that do not require an activated alarm to be verified include gun shops, financial institutions, government owned property and pharmaceutical companies, according to the Sherriff’s website.