Toronto police no longer responding to burglar alarms without verification

Click to play video: 'Alberta RCMP adopt new alarm policy'
Alberta RCMP adopt new alarm policy
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. (Aug. 14) – Aug 14, 2018

Toronto police say officers will no longer respond to property security alarms unless there is evidence of a break-in.

The policy change, which police said is part of the service’s modernization initiative and aims to cut down on the number of false calls, took effect on Monday.

“We found that more than 97 per cent of the calls were false and that really doesn’t tick the box of being where the public needs [officers] the most,” spokesperson Sandra Buckler told Global News on Monday evening.

“Up until today, we’d get an alarm activation about a burglary and we would send a police car and two officers. They would get there and the call would be false.”

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Buckler said officers will still respond if an alarm is activated, but now they require proof a break-in occurred. She said the evidence could be video, audio or eyewitness verification, or if multiple security alarm zones are triggered.

Police said panic, hold-up or duress alarms aren’t impacted by the policy change and officers will continue to respond to those types of alarms as normal.

With the new policy, Buckler said it will hopefully free up time for officers as well as 911 dispatchers. Routine alarm activation calls are one of the types of calls officers are trying to reduce from impacting the 911 system.

Global News previously reported on lengthy 911 wait times during major incidents and a staffing shortage inside the 911 communications centre. Earlier this year, Toronto police added dozens of communications operators to its complement.

During an interview with Global News, Deputy Chief Shawna Coxon said police are trying to redirect non-emergency calls from the 911 centre in order to shorten wait times.

“It is a constant challenge. It doesn’t seem to matter how many times we talk about it, our calls for service coming into communications services are up 8.5 per cent this year,” she said in late June.

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Aside from public education, police said they are looking for technological solutions to address tasks that can consume staff resources.

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