Dallas police have asked the City Council to allow them to stop answering every home and business burglar alarm call, says the Dallas Morning News. It is an idea that alarm companies oppose and that has drawn the ire of homeowners in other cities. Of the more than 62,000 alarm calls last year in Dallas, police say more than 97 percent were false, often caused by malfunctioning alarm systems, weather, or pets. Switching to a “verified response” would free up the equivalent of 41 police officers and save about $3.4 million.
The police plan would require alarm companies to send security guards to people’s unoccupied homes and businesses to verify whether a crime actually occurred. It would be up to the alarm company whether to call for police. “In the past, customers have told us that they want a police response,” said Chris Russell of the North Texas Alarm Association. “They don’t want a response from private security.” The industry argues that intruders may be emboldened if they know that police aren’t going to show up when an alarm is tripped. Salt Lake City is one of 24 U.S. cities that use verified response. Since it started in 2000, officers dispatched on burglar alarm calls dropped by 94 percent. Burglaries are down about 12 percent.