Security Business

JUN 2019

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12 Security Business / / June 2019 SECURITY WATCH BY JOEL GRIFFIN, EDITOR, SECURITYINFOWATCH.COM Alarms & Monitoring Industry Praises New Tennessee Alarm Law Measure prevents cities from charging dealers for false alarms, collecting annual alarm permit fees Amid the ongoing legal battle between the alarm industry and the City of Sandy Springs, Ga., over an ordinance that requires alarm companies to pay for false alarms incurred by home and business owners, lawmakers in Tennessee have taken steps to ensure such an issue does not arise in their state. In May, Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee signed into a law a bill, sponsored by State Sens. Paul Bailey and Steven Dickerson, that prohibits local governments from requiring alarm companies to collect or pay alarm permit fees and also bars the state from issuing fines to alarm dealers for false alarms caused by end-users. “It is very gratifying that Tennessee recognizes the importance of facilitating the installation of security systems, as well as the user being the responsible party for any fines or fees associated with the security system,” Ivan Spector, President of The Monitoring Association (TMA), said in a statement. “TMA commends the Tennessee Legislature for taking action to ensure that municipalities in their state enact effective false alarm reduction ordinances. Studies have shown that the most effective way to reduce the misuse of alarm systems is to fine users who generate an excessive number of false alarms,” added TMA VP Donald M. Young. “Ordinances like the one recently passed in Sandy Springs do little to modify customer behavior or reduce the number of false alarms. The new Tennessee law will help to ensure that these types of ineffective measures are never passed in the state.” Stan Martin, Executive Director of the Security Industry Alarm Coalition (SIAC), told that the Tennessee law is a “terrific start” for the industry and that every state should be working on developing similar legislation. “There is no basis for passing customer fines to dealers,” Martin said. “The only time dealers should be responsible for a fine is when it is directly attributable to an act they control – such as a technician on site who trips an alarm and fails to notify the central station; failing to make two calls prior to dispatch if required; or falsifying documents attesting to customer training or repairs to a system that weren’t done.” The Electronic Security Association (ESA) said the first provision of the law that prohibits local governments from requiring dealers to collect or pay annual permit fees was borne out of an issue the Tennessee ESA has been working to address with the City of Memphis that essentially made alarm companies a collection agency for the city. “ESA applauds this legislation and congratulates the hard work done by the Tennessee (ESA) to advocate for the industry and to reduce false alarms,” said Chris Heaton, VP of Advocacy & Public Affairs for ESA. ■ Contrary to a law in Georgia that penalizes alarm dealers for user-caused false alarms, a Tennessee law will ensure dealers are not targeted with unfair fines. ©BigStock Sandy Springs Finalizes Controversial Alarm Law With little discussion in front of a sparse crowd in mid-May, the Sandy Springs City Council put the finishing touches on a controversial home and business alarm ordinance designed to cut down on false alarms. The new rule – which has been the subject of legal battles spearheaded by the Security Industry Alarm Coalition (SIAC) and the Electronic Security Association (ESA) – means Sandy Springs police will not respond to any burglar alarm unless the monitoring company provides video or audio proof an actual burglary is taking place. In an earlier draft of the rule, the City Council wanted alarm companies to provide immediate verification; however, after complaints from residents and alarm companies, the council decided to continue sending police immediately to alarms but will require alarm companies to provide proof of a break-in afterward. The law officially went into effect on June 19. Companies will be subject to fines for false alarms – a cost that most expect will be passed along to customers. If the false alarm calls continue, the city will stop responding to all of the company’s customers. Vince Raia, president of EMC Security, told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution that the 24-hour window will decrease the amount of confusion. “What people want is certainty,” he said. If upheld in the courts, the Sandy Springs model of verified response could be adopted by other Georgia municipalities. ■

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