Security Business

JUL 2019

Find news and information for the executive corporate security director, CSO, facility manager and assets protection manager on issues of policy, products, incidents, risk management, threat assessments and preparedness.

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24 Security Business / www.SecurityInfoWatch.com / July 2019 Legal Brief BY TIMOTHY J. PASTORE, ESQ. A Tale of Two Cities Differing legislative approaches to false alarm reduction in Georgia and Tennessee Imagine that you own two homes – one in Nashville, Tenn., and one in Sandy Springs, Ga. At both of these homes, you hire a security company to install a standard alarm system, consisting of door contacts, motion sensors and glass-break detectors. You also pay a monthly fee for professional monitoring services for each alarm system. While you and your family are enjoying a beautiful cruise overseas, both of these homes are burglarized by different groups of bad guys. The alarm systems in each home work as designed and generate multiple alarm signals during each burglary. These signals are transmitted to each respective monitoring company – both of which attempted to verify the alarms and, ultimately, dispatch the police. In Nashville, the police were dispatched promptly and apprehended the bad guys within minutes of the alarm. As a result, no personal property was lost in the burglary and the bad guys were put in jail. In Sandy Springs, the police were not dispatched, the bad guys were not apprehended, and you lost an abundance of valuable personal property during the burglary. Why such divergent results? Why is this a “Tale of Two Cities?” The answer resides in how the State of Tennessee and the city of Sandy Springs have decided to attack the problem of false alarms. A Contrast in Laws On May 8, 2019, Tennessee passed a new law that prohibits local governments from requiring installing security contractors and businesses to obtain permits for the operation of alarm systems. The law also includes language to prohibit local governments from imposing fines or fees on security dealers or businesses for false alarms. Fees related to false alarm dispatches, alarm permits or alarm renewal permits are also prohibited as against security contractors and businesses, but may be assessed against home and business owners (read more at www.securityinfowatch.com/21080735). In contrast, the City of Sandy Springs – like a few other cities around the country – amended its alarm ordinance to require alarm monitoring companies to provide “True Verification,” through audio, video or in-person verification, and prior to calling the police and attempting a dispatch (Read more at www.securityinfowatch.com/21081896). In other words, effective June 19, officers will not respond to any home or business alarms that cannot be confirmed as a crime. According to the City of Sandy Springs, the alarm company has the duty to verify an activation as an indicator of a bona fide crime – rather than just a sensor activation – before requesting public safety response. Any alarm signal that can be verified will receive a priority response. It should be noted that other signals, such as fire or panic, are expressly exempted from these “True Verification” procedures and will result in a dispatch. Notably, under the Sandy Springs alarm ordinance, false alarm fines are imposed on the security provider, not the homeowner. This latest amendment to the Sandy Springs ordinance builds upon existing state laws in Georgia which already required alarm companies reporting an activation to engage in two-call verification prior to requesting dispatch. "Sandy Springs argues that the security business is an industry that anchors its business model on the use of taxpayer- funded public services and, therefore, it should bear the burden of the high false alarm rate."

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