Dallas Rescinds VR: Public Outcry Aids in Verified Response Repeal
By a vote of 11 to 4, the Dallas city council voted to rescind the city’s verified response ordinance, making the Texas city the first to pass and then rescind a verified response ordinance.
This was the second milestone for Dallas. In February 2006, Dallas was the largest city at the time to have passed a verified alarm response ordinance for commercial burglar alarms. The ordinance meant that Dallas police would no longer respond to commercial burglar alarms unless they were first privately verified.
According to Chris Russell, president of the North Texas Alarm Association, once the ordinance was passed, 90 percent of commercial business owners chose to respond to alarms themselves, rather than hiring private guard services to respond to their alarms. This posed obvious public safety concerns for those business owners responding to their own alarms. “About 10 percent of the commercial businesses in Dallas subscribed to guard services. It’s all about safety,” said Russell, who was present at the meeting.
Since the ordinance took effect, Dallas had several incidents where business owners responded to their own burglar alarms and there were actual burglaries or break-ins in progress. In one particular incident in March of this year, one business owner responded to his own burglar alarm and shot and critically injured the alleged burglar. “There were many situations over the past several months, and I’m just relieved and pleased that the city council understands that this is a public safety and a citizen issue, not an alarm industry issue,” said Stan Martin, executive director of the Security Industry Alarm Coalition.
According to the Dallas Morning News, at the city council meeting Mayor Tom Leppert argued that Dallas’ 2007-08 city budget would allow for the hiring of at least 200 police officers and new equipment to help accommodate any workload increases brought on by repealing of the verified response ordinance.
Russell said that the ordinance was repealed more from public outcry and backing from the city council and Leppert, rather than security industry support. “It’s important to realize that it wasn’t the work of the industry, but that it was citizen outcry. [Verified response] didn’t work in Dallas and the leadership here recognized that and acted upon that,” Russell said. While repealing the verified response ordinance is a step for the security industry, Russell says that he wouldn’t call it a victory.
“I don’t really see this as winners or losers, but as a new beginning,” Russell said. He said that he would like to take this opportunity to continue to meet with city officials and explore new ways to reduce false alarms.