accepted modifications to the Verified Alarm Policy
July 23, 2003
As a result of a 4-1 vote by the Board of Police Commissioners,
Mayor Hahn's proposed modifications will become the backbone of
LAPD's Alarm Policy.
Deputy Mayor Roberta Yang gave the presentation on behalf of the
Office of the Mayor. You'll find the entire presentation below ...
an outline of his compromise proposal.
Two Councilmembers spoke in its support, Janice Hahn and Wendy Greuel,
and one against, Jack Weiss, and in the end Commission President
Rick Caruso cast the sole dissenting vote.
The three Chiefs of Police associated with the current Board of
Police Commissioners, Chief Parks, Chief Pomeroy and Chief Bratton
all had supported a system that required verification.
But now the actual Policy will be a combination of recommendations
from the Burglar Alarm Task Force (BAT Force), most of which had
already been agreed to by Commission Staff, and the Mayor's modifications.
Essentially alarm uses will be "allowed," but fined for,
two false alarms per year. As always they'll be required to register
their alarm annually, and pay a fee.
There are still a fair number of things to work out, such as how
to educate the public, how to rewrite ordinances, how to coordinated
the various City Agencies and Departments and how to integrate the
On this last note, a workaround has been found for the current system,
but a brand new one is due to come online in January. The supplier
will have to modify the software originally ordered to accommodate
tracking of, and billing for, false alarms.
It's also not clear what legal ramifications the plan will produce,
what financial consequences the City might face if it is sued for
"mistakes," and what an appeal process for alarm owners
might be like.
While the costs for all this are as yet unknown, the two major alarm
industry groups representing almost 100% of the local Alarm Companies
had promised to provide their complete databases of customers for
the first time if the Mayor's policy modifications were adopted.
We hope they'll come through.
They've been asked repeatedly for such a list for some 10 years,
ever since the City began requiring alarm registration, but have
denied access to it until now.
Annual fees for burglar alarms, and fines for their misuse, have
been required in Los Angeles for the past decade, yet the City has
never had these customer lists provided by the industry, and the
Police Department has little idea who currently uses alarms.
Only those who chose to voluntarily comply with the registration
process are in the current system, and the vast majority are not.
As a result the Office of Finance has not been able to track and
collect the money due from LA's burglar alarm users.
Now such a list will be essential to the implementation of the plan,
and private collection agencies may become involved.
It's been mentioned that moneys linked to the Alarm Policy might
make their way directly into the Police Department budget, not the
City's General Fund, and could used for a variety of LAPD's needs.
Following the acceptance of his proposal, Mayor Hahn put out a short
statement saying, "I am pleased that the Police Commission
adopted the compromise policy that includes many of the thoughtful
recommendations of the Burglar Alarm Task Force. The new policy
balances the need to maximize the use of our scarce police resources
while addressing community concerns about LAPD’s response to burglar
He concluded, "Over the long term, building our police force
is the best solution to meeting our neighborhood needs, and I will
continue to work with LAPD and the City Council to improve recruitment
and hiring of police officers."
The entire outline of the Mayor's plan is below.
But we'll also provide a link here to our previous articles about
the Verified Alarm Policy (now modified). Of special note is the
group of articles in late May and early June which describe the
recommendations of the Burglar Alarm Task Force and the Police Commissions
commitment to the majority of its requests.
These, in combination with the Mayor's proposal, will become the
new Alarm Policy.
LACP articles on Burglar Alarms
Modifications to LAPD's Alarm Dispatch Policy
the Office of the Mayor - presented to, and accepted by, the
July 23, 2003
In January 2003, the Police Commission approved the Department's
implementing order for a verification policy governing how
the Los Angeles Police Department would process dispatches
to alarm notifications.
Under the order, Police Department dispatchers would request
third part or other verification of criminal activity at a
location where an alarm had been activated. No changes in
dispatch were made for panic alarms, which have continued
to be dispatched as a high priority by the Department.
Following the action by the Police Commission, the proposed
change in alarm dispatch policy was forwarded to City Council.
Council assembled the Burglar Alarm Task Force, comprised
of community representatives, representatives of the alarm
industry and City departments. This Task Force developed recommendations
for further consideration.
Following the action by the Police Commission, and in light
of concerns subsequently expressed by a number of stakeholders,
Mayor Hahn requested further consultation among City staff
to ensure all feasible options had been explored prior to
final implementation of the new verified alarm policy.
Mayor Hahn's Goal
Mayor Hahn's goal is to achieve a balance between scarce police
resources and concerns expressed by the community.
At the Mayor's request, representatives from the following
City entities met:
Department (Operations, Communications)
Janice Hahn's Office
This group focussed on the following:
technological modifications to the Police Department's
provisions in Los Angeles and other California cities
governing alarm permitting.
Alarm Task Force recommendations.
between the Office of Finance's permittee database and
collection efforts, and the transfer of false alarm addresses
to it from the Police Commission.
Our review revealed the following:
City ordinance allows two false alarm contacts for permittees
before fees can be imposed.
City ordinance already requires some degree of verification.
City of Sacramento alarm ordinance provides an example
in its permit requirements and enforcement provisions.
number of the Burglar Task Force recommendations should
be forwarded to Council for adoption.
Police Department's dispatch system can be configured
to track false alarm contacts on a rolling annual basis.
transfer of location information where false alarm contacts
have occurred requires further coordination between the
Police Commission and the Office of Finance.
Based on our review and consultation, we recommend that the
Police Commission approve the following:
that Council seek the assistance of the City Attorney
in drafting amendments to the City's alarm ordinance that
Proof of issuance of an alarm permit prior to installation;
Enforcement through issuance of infractions that apply
to both the alarm user and installer;
Fees for false alarm contacts starting with a $95 fee
for the first false alarm and incremental increases of
$50 for subsequent alarm contacts;
Fees are doubled for non-permittees;
Fees for late and delinquent permits of $50 annually in
addition to the permit fee of $30 for each year in which
a valid permit should have been issued, and
An amnesty period of 30 days or until the next payment
deadline set by the Office of Finance for permits issued
for calendar year 2004 (whichever is longer) during which
all non-permittees can apply for a permit without incurring
that the Office of Finance confer with Police Commission
and City Attorney to review collection and enforcement
process (e.g. facilitating requests for fees on City Attorney
letterhead similar to other City collection efforts.
that the Office of Finance make readily accessible on-line
burglar alarm permit applications and payment processing
on the City's website. Have Police Commission staff review
requirements for electronic transmission.
that the Office of Finance work with the Mayor's Office
to develop a public education campaign on how to apply
for alarm permits and how to avoid the occurrence of false
alarms (e.g. inserts in utility bills).
the Police Department to work with the Information Technology
Agency to modify the dispatch system to track false alarm
contacts at locations, to count such contacts on a rolling
annual basis, and to prompt dispatchers to request verification
for false alarm contacts at locations with more than two
(2) false alarm contacts in any rolling annual year.
the Police Department to maintain its current dispatch
policy with respect to the first two false alarm contacts
at any given location on a rolling annual basis.
the Police Department that in the event verification is
requested and unavailable, the Department will broadcast
and file the alarm notification.
the Police Department to require that dispatchers obtain
the State Alarm Company Operator (AOC) permit numbers
when alarm companies call to request LAPD dispatch or
the company name if no AOC is available, and that the
Information Technology Agency develop system capability
to track the AOC permit numbers and company name.
We believe that this compromise best balances the need to
maximize scarce police resources and community concerns. While
the best solution is the hiring of more police officers, we
cannot ignore the need for this balance at this time.