We would like to respond to the article published in the Winnipeg Sun dated February 10, 2004 concerning the Winnipeg Police Department’s decision to respond to security alarms only after alarm providers have verified – or tried to confirm – criminal activity.

There has been a misunderstanding of the message that our Manitoba President, Brent Pokrant, expressed in the article. The Canadian Alarm and Security Association (CANASA), a national organization representing the electronic security industry, would like to officially state that the only form of verified response that we support is Enhanced Telephone Verification (ETV), or otherwise known as Two-call Verification. ETV is a process where by the monitoring station attempts to contact 2 representatives (key holders) at the premises before requesting a dispatch from the police department.

As an active member of the Security Industry Alarm Coalition (SIAC), we endorse and promote a model by-law to Police Departments that is proven to be in the best interest of the public safety. A copy of this by-law is available from CANASA (www.canasas.org) for those who are interested in reviewing and understanding the important elements of a successful by-law that provides safety and security to the public and reduces the need for police services. It is the best way to enhance public safety, which is the shared objective of the community, police department and security industry.

All police departments are feeling the ripple affects of cutbacks in government funding, and they are being asked to do more with fewer resources. Verified-response is a drastic step with a false promise of easing the workload of police agencies.

The article related specifically to the Winnipeg Police and their announcement to change their alarm response policy to verified response. The monitoring stations already filter out more than 80% of the false dispatches by verification techniques such as contacting the homeowner prior to dispatch, and they are further reducing these calls with Enhanced Telephone Verification (ETV).

The article was based on the myth that verified response, non-response, will allow police to be reassigned to respond to serious crimes and prevent crimes. Just last year the City of Los Angeles conducted one of the most extensive and comprehensive reviews of this public policy with a Burglar Alarm Task Force comprised of citizens and representatives from all public agencies. Their work dispelled many of the myths surrounding verified response, and the police rejected verified response as an alarm response policy.

The Canadian Alarm and Security Association (CANASA) has the resources available to help any jurisdiction interested in creating a successful false alarm reduction program. CANASA and our members are committed to safety and false alarm reduction and work with Police Departments to adopt a model alarm management program that will reduce false dispatches.

Since 1983, CANASA has been promoting the concept of a model alarm by-law for use by the Canadian security industry. In 1999, the North American alarm industry joined the International Association of Chiefs of Police and the National Sheriff’s Association on a multi-year project that created the ‘Model States Report’, a study of the effects of alarm by-laws in a variety of jurisdictions. This benchmark report provides the basic framework that can be readily adapted by any municipality or jurisdiction to provide an effective and proven by-law. Each jurisdiction may decide to alter certain sections of the model by-law, there are key elements that should be maintained if the desired results are to be achieved. The Canadian Alarm and Security Association had extended an invitation to the Winnipeg Police to help to develop an alternative to a verified response policy. CANASA has the process to help implement and maintain these measures and we are willing to work with all those concerned to establish an agreeable solution that benefits police, the community and the security industry.

We all know the limitations of police resources and must not forget that alarm system monitoring is not about notifying police but giving timely notification and response to an alarm signal. In other words, we agree that multiple key holders should be listed for contacts. A timely response by any individual may limit the loss or allow a call for service to be requested by the key holder.

The security industry is in the business of Safety and Security. We do not want to reduce the effectiveness of alarm systems, but are extremely conscious in working towards the reduction in the number of false alarm dispatches.