Officials in Sandy Springs said a new ordinance designed to cut down on false alarm calls has already had an impact in just its first 60 days.
“[It’s made] a huge difference,” said Sandy Springs Police Capt. Dan Nable.
The city’s “true verification” ordinance went into effect June 19 and requires alarm companies to verify a burglar or intruder alarm by using audio, video, or an in-person verification before notifying 911. The policy, however, does not change the city’s response to panic, duress, hold-up, medical, or fire alarms from alarm systems.
According to Sandy Springs police, before the ordinance, they responded to about 10,000 alarm calls each year with an average of a little under 200 per week and more than 99 percent were false. Over the last two months, that number has gone down to just 32 a week, with a projected average of 1,664 per year.
“Now officers don’t have to spend all that time running around wasting city resources and taxpayers dollars to answer calls that really aren’t police matters in the first place,” Nable explained.
Police said it takes about an hour for an officer to respond to a false alarm call and they can instead use that time more productively.
“The officers have more time to focus on the real problem, whether it’s an area that’s having some criminal activity that they can patrol or whether it’s spending more time with a suspicious person,” Nable said.
Verified response also helps officers respond more effectively when they get a true alarm call.
On June 30, an employee with an alarm company called Pro-Vigil called 911 to report burglary suspects had entered a construction site on Roswell Road. Monitoring a live camera feed, the caller was able to give the dispatcher real-time information about what was happening, as well as descriptions of the people involved. Police arrived on the scene in a little more than seven minutes.
“They were able to relay that information to the dispatch center who could tell the patrol supervisor and the patrol officers exactly what was going on so that they could make a good decision about how to allocate resources to send officers to that immediately as a crime in progress,” Nable explained. “Because of that we were able to capture three burglars in the commission of that crime.”
Since the implementation of true verification, Sandy Springs police said there have been no burglaries where an alarm was activated and police did not respond because they did not meet verification standards.