Dallas commercial burglaries for March 2006 have increased 17.9 percent compared with March 2005, according to city statistics. â€œIn the first month of verified response for business burglar alarms in Dallas, a key statistic shows the failure of the policy,â€ voiced the North Texas Alarm Association (NTAA) in a statement.
â€œA proposal that was supposed to help police fight more crime has instead led to a predictable increase in crime. This is why fewer than 30 of the nationâ€™s approximate 18,000 police departments utilize verified response,â€ continued Chris Russell, president of the NTAA.
The rise in business burglaries comes one month after the Dallas verified response policy â€” which only applies to commercial burglar alarms â€” took effect. While commercial burglaries increased, residential burglaries in Dallas decreased by 19.7 percent between March 2005 and March 2006.
Opponents of verified response say that a rise in burglaries is common after passing a verified response policy and point to an increase in burglaries in other cities that have passed verified response policies or ordinances including Fremont, Calif., and Salt Lake City. â€œThe first thing,â€ said Ron Walters, director of the Security Industry Alarm Coalition (SIAC), in response to the rise in Dallas business burglaries, â€œis this is not a surprise to us. Fremont had an increase and if you look at average statistics of the years while Salt Lake City has been in non-response, their burglary rate is still up.â€
But, admits Dave Simon, senior manager of industry and public relations at Brinkâ€™s Home Security Inc., a one-month rise in statistics is not long enough to qualify as a trend in Dallas. â€œIf burglaries continue to rise after six months then you have a trend and a clearer situation that verified response is not working the way the proponents said it would,â€ Simon said.
The important issue that Dallasâ€™ statistics bring up, said Walters, is that city officials need to be willing to revisit the issue when there is an increase in burglaries and overall crime statistics after passing a policy such as verified response.
â€œNobody really wants to go back and look at it again,â€ Walters said. â€œUltimately the citizens end up paying.â€ There is a very small chance that a city would reverse verified response after it has been passed, even if the city experiences a large increase in crime, he added. With elected officials moving in and out of office on two- or three-year cycles, what might have been passed a year or two ago is forgotten and not looked at again, Walters said. â€œWhile one month [of increased burglaries in Dallas] does not make a trend,â€ he continued, â€œit warrants looking at [the ordinance] again.â€
Walters pointed out the example of Murray, Utah â€” a small town about nine miles outside of Salt Lake City, which reversed its decision to practice verified response after implementing it for one year. â€œIt was a very political issue when it passed in Murray,â€ Walters said. â€œYet the police chief was bold enough to [tell the city council] that the police department had not saved any time, dollars or manpower,â€ with verified response in place.
With verified response being such a controversial issue, all eyes will be on the city of Dallas to see where the burglary and crime statistics go from here. Even if the Dallas city council doesnâ€™t revisit the ordinance already passed for commercial burglar alarms, there will be a public discussion on the issue if the city decides to pursue a verified response ordinance for residential burglar alarms. â€œWe may get a second look at this in Dallas if they go residential,â€ said Simon.