Due to the high number of false alarms consuming members’ time, the Sunshine Coast RCMP detachment is instituting a new response policy for commercial and residential alarms.
“In a nutshell, what we’re planning on changing is we will not respond to an unverified alarm,” Staff Sgt. Herb Berdahl told the Sunshine Coast policing committee on April 28.
Under the new system, police will attend commercial alarms that have been verified, as well as panic alarms and hold-up alarms.
“Alarms are deemed to be verified when a monitoring service reports multi-zone, glass break and/or confirmation through two-way voice or video monitoring,” Berdahl said in a letter to Sunshine Coast Regional District board chair Garry Nohr that was presented at the meeting.
“Verification can also be obtained from a witness at the scene of an alarm.”
The same need for verification will apply to residential alarms, but RCMP will continue to respond to alarms in homes occupied by the elderly, physically challenged or those with special needs, and in high-risk domestic situations.
“Those are police-provided alarms,” Berdahl told the committee. “Those types of alarms we’ll go to.”
RCMP will also continue to attend school alarms.
Responding to false alarms has become a significant drain on police resources. Between 2009 and 2013, the detachment responded to 3,610 false alarms, representing about seven per cent of total file volume.
While the estimated time to clear a false alarm is 15 minutes on the Lower Mainland, the time consumed on the Sunshine Coast is believed to be considerably more due to the distances travelled.
Similar policy shifts have been made in Chilliwack, Coquitlam, Mission and Langley and have proven effective, Berdahl said.
He said security companies on the Coast have been supportive of the idea and were not surprised by the coming change in policy.
The detachment is obtaining feedback from local governments before putting the new policy into practice within the next 30 to 60 days.
© Coast Reporter