301.519.9237 exdirector@nesaus.org

Paradise Valley Police Chief Peter Wingert has introduced an option for the local alarm system to enter the 21st Century, as just over 300 households subscribe to the offering.

2.18.20 – Independent –

Municipal date, Thursday, Feb. 13, 2020: Paradise Valley alarm monitoring system — the next generation.

Since the early-1980s, the Paradise Valley Police Department has offered a one-of-a-kind alarm system where nearly all single-family homes could, if homeowners desired, have an alarm system hooked directly into police dispatch.

At the time, the program was revolutionary, but today the program, to a degree, has become obsolete. However, since April 2019, at the direction of Paradise Valley Town Council, Police Chief Peter Wingert has been searching for what a 21st Century alarm program could look like.

“In April of 2019 you gave me direction to solicit new subscribers and to determine if whether those subscribers would be interested in next-generation services,” Chief Wingert told Town Council at a Feb. 13 study session discussion at Town Hall, 6401 E. Lincoln Drive.

“I am here to ask the key question: is the council interested in offering alarm subscribers next-generation services at the fair-market rate?”

Paradise Valley homeowners have the option, for a cost ranging from $35 to $50, to have a hard line directly into the Paradise Valley Police Department’s dispatch center for when emergencies occur. If an alarm connected to the Paradise Valley alarm system is tripped, a call for service will ring directly into the department’s dispatch center, town officials say.

However, that system has created an epidemic of false alarms, which up until recently, was the majority of police activity regarding the alarm system.

Records show in 2017, 99.86% of the 3,682 security alarms the police department responded to were false, or didn’t result in the discovery of criminal activity, according to Chief Wingert. Moreover, only five alarms responded to were for an actual emergency.

In August 2018, due to failing alarm panels of the antiquated system, Paradise Valley transitioned 325 subscribers — a total of 404 alarm panels — to Dynamark Monitoring infrastructure, according to Chief Wingert.

In conjunction with that transition to Dynamark Monitoring, the police department hired an alarm analyst and finally, in April 2019, alarm program began taking in new subscribers.

In all, there are 325 subscribers of which nine are new subscribers since May 2019, records show.

Paradise Valley Councilwoman Anna Thomasson cut to the chase on what level of desire there is for next-generation services of the legacy alarm system.

“At the end of the day, we had 15 homes in our town that have asked for these services,” she said.

— Anna Thomasson, councilwoman

According to Chief Wingert, that is the response level of the most recent alarm services survey; however, the next generation of services would be offered at a cost-neutral to the municipality.

“There is no cost to implement this service — this is really going through your smart phone and our vendor,” Chief Wingert said of services provided by Alarm.com, SECURENET Technologies, Uplink and TELGUARD.

“Realistically, it is a third leg on a three-way project. The potential costs to a subscriber would be depending on the vintage of their panel. They will certainly need a panel programming update. This is totally optional on our side, we will not be forcing anyone to be a part of anything.”

Applications that can be added through Dynamark Monitoring are:

  • Smart wireless light switch
  • Lamp dimmer
  • Appliance plug-in
  • Door locks
  • Thermostats
  • Garage door control
  • Smart home learning
  • Smart outlets
  • Bluetooth compatibility

Private sector vs. municipal operations

Chief Wingert contends any new interactive service popular today can now be a part of the Paradise Valley alarm program.

“Any of those home automations that any other security company could offer, you could do that through the Paradise Valley Police Department,” he said clarifying the monitoring would be app-based and not reliant upon PVPD dispatch. “Each of those could have small service charges attached to them.”

— Peter Wingert, PV police chief

Mr. Wingert envisions a standard and gold level of service available through the police department alarm system.

“Cost would be somewhere between $45 and $70 for the next-generation services, typically,” he said of cost estimates. “But there will be no change for basic monitoring of alarms. There are four providers but they will all be under the umbrella of Dynamark.”

With new services, Chief Wingert anticipates the ability to double existing alarm subscribers.

“I think our part-time person can get that number up to 700,” he said of what appears to be an internal goal.

For Paradise Valley Mayor Jerry Bien-Willner the Paradise Valley alarm program is a “success story.”

“It was a long road and a long discussion on this topic and we were able to find a way to do this,” he said recalling of where the program was just 18 months ago.

“I think this is a success story. Initially, thank you chief for sharing with us in way we all could understand that it wasn’t working. It was always a profitable program, but it wasn’t meant to be a profitable program — it was meant to be a service to our residents.”

Mr. Bien-Willner points out a major improvement through existing panel upgrades has resulted in a decrease to false alarms across the community.

“False alarms have been reduced by a magnitude,” he said. “This system is more than paying for itself and more than paying for that position. For me personally, I have these standalone apps for a lot of these things and that may be the future. I just don’t think we should be looking for a way to exit.”

— Jerry Bien-Willner, mayor

Paradise Valley Councilwoman Ellen Andeen also believes in the program’s value to the community.

“Paradise Valley is the only police department in the state that offers this program. And, last year I went on record saying this is something that can be done by the private sector,” she said of her philosophical position.

“However, we have 300 subscribers and this program is important to them, so I would like to see how this can go forward for the next generation.”