August 14, 2018 3:22 pm
Updated: August 15, 2018 6:38 pm

Alberta RCMP adopt new alarm policy after responding to 15,500 false alarms in 2017

WATCH ABOVE: The RCMP is changing the way they respond to alarms in Alberta, after a new policy came into effect in July. Kim Smith explains.

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Alberta RCMP are following a new alarm policy after just under 15,500 false alarms took up an estimated 8,000 human resource hours in 2017.

The new policy, which came into effect on July 13, states that police will verify alarms before responding and will not respond to alarms that are only triggered once.

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In a news release issued Tuesday, police said a review showed that most alarms that are only triggered once are false alarms. These false alarms tie up police resources, as well as 911 lines, the release stated.

“You can help us keep our 911 lines open and our officers free to respond to real emergencies,” A/Commr. John Ferguson said. “By cutting down on false alarms, we can ensure our officers are where they are needed most.”

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According to the release, police will still respond to ATM, multi-zone intrusion, panic, duress, holdup, glass break, domestic violence and verified alarms.

Police in Edmonton and Calgary already follow similar policies.

In 2016, the police service in both cities underwent reviews and both found that 96 per cent of calls they responded to after the first alarm were false alarms.

Edmonton Police say they will not respond to a first alarm call until there is a combination of an exterior breach and the internal motion alarm is activated or if police are able to make contact with the keyholder to determine the legitimacy of the alarm.

READ MORE: Calgary home alarm bylaw changed after data shows 96% are false alarms

The Calgary Police Service operates under a similar policy, except that two keyholders need to be reached before police will respond to an alarm call where only one alarm zone has been activated.

The second phase of the policy change was brought in in November 2016 and stated 911 wouldn’t dispatch police to an address that didn’t have a valid alarm permit, if the permit is suspended, if the call is within 14 days of an alarm system being installed or where the alarm company isn’t properly licensed.

Both police forces said they will still respond to calls involving panic, hold-up or duress alarms and any verified valid alarm action.

READ MORE: Calgary home alarm calls down by 54% after bylaw changes: police

To cut down on false alarms, police recommend placing alarm equipment so animals or debris will not trigger the alarm, knowing all alarm codes, securing all windows and doors, regularly replacing batteries and reporting damaged or faulty equipment to the alarm company.

Lethbridge Police Services is now the only police force in the province that continues to respond to first alarm calls. A spokesperson for the LPS said their officers don’t verify or wait for a second alarm before responding but will call off their response if an alarm is cancelled.

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