Modesto Police Department News Release

For Immediate Release

Contact: Amarillas, Michael, Office of the Chief of Police
Release Date: Wednesday, November 01, 2006, 5:00:00 PM


Modesto, CA- On November 1, 2006, the Modesto Police Department will begin using a verified response dispatch policy when responding to alarm calls. The change in policy is a means of reducing false alarms.

Since 1993, the Modesto Police Department has attempted to reduce the number of false alarms officers respond to by imposing increasingly harsh fines for alarm users who experience multiple false alarms each year, hosting Alarm Reduction Classes, and placing addresses on a “no response” list if there have been more than five false alarms in a twelve month period. To date, there has been no reduction in the number of false alarms that officers respond to each month and patrol officers are busier than ever with the increasing amount of calls for service received everyday.

What this means for alarm owners is that the Modesto Police Department will no longer routinely respond to burglar alarms unless additional information is received to verify the validity of the alarm. The Alarm/Monitoring Company must be able to verify the alarm through the use of on-site audio and/or video equipment, or by a private security service. If the validity of the alarm was verified through the use of on-site equipment or a private security service, and it has been determined that the alarm is not false, the Modesto Police Department will dispatch an officer to respond.

Lt. Watts said, “The Modesto Police Department, the alarm and the security industries are committed to working together to reduce the number of false alarms and provide better service on valid alarms. The goal is to free officers to respond to all legitimate calls more quickly.”

If the validity of the alarm cannot be verified the call will be entered as a “BOL” (Be-On-The-Lookout), and an officer may respond at their discretion, as time allows. “We recommend that alarm owners do not respond to verify their alarm, or send neighbors or friends. Doing so could be potentially dangerous if there is an officer, a security officer or an intruder on-site. By now, alarm companies should have contracted with local security firms that will handle the on-site verification.” said Lt. Gary Watts. Alarm owners will still need to designate a key holder to come to the scene if requested, but this will only happen when the scene is secure. “Key holders are very different from first responders. Owners or their designees should not be first responders,” Watts said.

We recognize that either an alarm company or security company will probably bill customers with false alarms for a guard response. But that charge will be relatively cheap when compared to the current fees levied by the police department for responses to false alarms. Those charges are $50 for the second false alarm, $100 for the third, $200 for the fourth, and $400 for the fifth. Also, private security firms are probably going to be able to respond faster because they don’t have the other calls-for-service to which the police are expected to respond.

The new dispatch policy also does not affect the Police Department’s response to panic, robbery, duress, or other types of hold-up alarms. These types of alarms will continue to be treated as high priority by the Police Department.

The Police Department will evaluate the verified response policy for 12 months and will deliver a mid-year report to the City Council next July. “We’re not making any changes to the Municipal Code or seeking any action from the Council. We want to evaluate the new process to see if that’s necessary.” Watts said. “For now, verified response is a dispatch policy. I’m convinced that both alarm customers and non-customers will ultimately see better service. We wouldn’t be doing this if we didn’t think that it was good for the residents and business owners of Modesto.”