December 19, 2018 5:29 pm
Updated: December 20, 2018 10:10 am

Regina police to stop responding to security alarms without verification

The Regina police will be changing how they handle alarm calls in the new year - seeing officers respond to fewer home and business alarms. David Baxter has more on when police will respond and why the change is taking place.

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An alarm in your home or business can help provide a sense of security, but they’re starting to be a resource strain for the Regina Police Service (RPS).

The RPS will be changing the way they handle alarm calls starting Jan. 1, 2019.

“It’s just a general challenge that we have in terms of the volume of calls that we take and then the resources that it takes,” Chief Evan Bray said.

“Even if it’s a half hour for two alarms to prove that it’s a false alarm, that’s still resources.”

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A review of alarm responses showed that RPS attended 4,050 alarm calls in 2017, an average of 12 per day. Of those, 34 calls were valid threats and Bray said only about a quarter resulted in arrests.

READ MORE: Doorbell camera captures video of would-be thieves in west Edmonton

Going forward, the RPS will no longer send officers to “one hit” alarm activations. Alarm companies divide a property into zones, like the entryway being zone one, kitchen is zone two, etc.

RPS communications manager Elizabeth Nguyen said they are also requesting security companies let police know what the zones are during a call for service.

“That’s more for officer safety, just so we know when we get there – where are we looking, what are we looking for,” Nguyen explained.

Alarm companies will also be required to conduct “enhanced call verification” before contacting police. This means attempts must be made to contact at least two key-holders first.

Police say they will no longer dispatch members to commercial premises during regular business hours, as per the registered alarm permit.

“There are some alarm companies that will call us and say we don’t have any key-holders on file, we haven’t attempted to call anyone, so they haven’t really done their part in verifying the alarm and now we’re asking that they do,” Nguyen said.

READ MORE: Toronto police no longer responding to burglar alarms without verification

Nguyen added that the police are asking security customers to contact their provider and ensuring contact information is up to date.

Police will still be responding to panic, hold-up and duress alarms, those verified as a threat by a keyholder, or unusual circumstances like a broken window or roof hatch access.

Bray said similar criteria is used by Edmonton and Calgary police.

Often police found alarms are being triggered by innocent means. This could be a cat triggering a motion detector.

“We see a lot of front door or backdoor motions that are due to low batteries in the alarm sensor,” Nguyen added.

“That sends out a message to the alarm company and they call and say we’re getting some sort of message from the alarm system, we don’t know what’s happening. Then we get there and the door is secure, nothing’s happening.”

The Regina Chamber of Commerce said that they haven’t heard much business concern about the upcoming change, but will be monitoring the situation.

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