False Alarms

Telephone Verification of Burglar Alarms Mandatory
Effective October 2002, the Oxnard Police Department will not accept "unverified" burglar alarm calls. We now require that any automatic alarm (those alarms that are not activated manually, except for mobile security devices) be verified by telephone or other electronic means.

Verification Not So New
The “new” requirement that central stations verify burglar alarm calls (or “automatic alarms” as defined in the Oxnard City Ordinance) is really not new at all. It has been in effect since 1997, but the Oxnard Police Department has not enforced this requirement until now. Every alarm company licensed to do business in the city of Oxnard received information on the 2002 Alarm Code revisions in the mail. If you would like to receive information again, please email us with your request. An unabridged copy of the 2002 Oxnard Alarm Code is available here.

The verification of automatic alarms is not a new concept. The philosophy is underwritten by every major security alarm trade group in the nation.

The Model Burglar Alarm Ordinance, written by the National Burglar & Fire Alarm Association and the False Alarm Reduction Association, states:
A Monitoring Company shall verify every alarm signal, except a duress or holdup alarm activation before requesting a law enforcement response to an Alarm System signal.

Oxnard City Code Section 16.1-21 states that “[E]very alarm business that monitors alarm systems shall: before making an alarm dispatch request, attempt to verify every alarm signal by contacting the alarm site by telephone or other electronic means; provided, however, that the alarm business may make an alarm dispatch request without attempting to verify alarm signals generated by a fire alarm, a hazardous environment alarm, a 211 alarm, a takeover alarm, or a mobile security device in a vehicle that generates an auto accident alarm, such as air bag deployment or vehicle rollover.”

The Central Station Alarm Association has adopted standards that include the definition and procedural aspects for alarm verification. The CSAA standards are available for review at http://www.csaaul.org/CSAAStandards.htm.  Although some companies may not adhere to these recommended standards, they must comply with the requirements set forth by the Oxnard City Council (as specified in the Security, Fire, and Wireless Alarm Code) or the police will not respond. It is as simple as that. No exceptions.

IACP Gets Involved
This month, the International Association of Chiefs of Police adopted a resolution on multiple call verification. Here is the press release from the CSAA:

On Sunday, October 6, the Private Sector Liaison Committee (PSLC) of the International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP) passed a resolution (later presented to the IACP Board) calling for central stations to implement multiple call verification.

Studies have shown that second call verification reduces the incidence of false dispatches by 30 to 50 percent. This resolution is seen as a further step in the war on false dispatches and it is viewed by CSAA and other alarm industry organizations as a positive step.

According to Chief Tom Sweeney of the IACP's Private Sector Liaison Committee, "the adoption of the resolution on "multiple call" verification was not expected to happen this year. The circumstances leading to such a quick approval by the General Assembly are remarkable." Chief Sweeney further explained that typically the IACP requires resolutions to be submitted 30 days prior to the annual meeting."

We drafted the resolution on Saturday and the full IACP/PSLC approved the resolution for submission on Sunday. We expected it would be presented next year at the 2003 session. However, that Sunday evening, during the CSAA-organized (Industry-sponsored) reception, I ran into an IACP Executive Committee/Resolutions Committee member and he informally took the resolution and agreed to make the effort to get it approved on Tuesday, waiving the 30 day policy notice," added Chief Sweeney.

The resolution was formally adopted by the IACP body during the General Assembly.

New Procedures
The verification of alarms is intended to reduce the number of false alarms police handle. To accept an unverified alarm from a central station is a violation of Oxnard law and Oxnard public safety dispatchers have been instructed not to accept any such alarm call.

The dispatchers will not debate this issue with a central station operator. Oxnard dispatchers have been instructed to disconnect the line if a central station operator becomes unprofessional and will refer the tape recorded incident for follow-up by Department command staff.

If a central station calls us and cannot attempt to verify the alarm because the central station does not have a callback number for the business or residence, we will not accept your alarm dispatch request. It is suggested that you contact responsible parties on the account to notify them of the activation.

If you have any questions about this policy, please contact us.

» History of the Oxnard False Alarm Problem
» What is a False Alarm?
» Alarm Operation Tips
» Alarm Fines, Fees, Permits, and Penalties
» How to Appeal a Fine
» Summary of 2002 Ordinance Changes
» Unabridged Text of Alarm Code
» Central Station Information
» False Alarm Links