The False Alarm Problem


Only 1% of the alarms that are activated are true emergencies. Yes, 99% of alarms are false alarms. Add that statistic to the number of alarms installed in this country, 30 million and growing, and the problem becomes immense.

The reason false alarms need to be reduced is, false alarms lead to false dispatches. Across the country, police departments are being inundated with calls from alarm monitoring companies, only to find a sheepish homeowner who couldn't cancel his mistakenly set alarm. Each police call to a false alarm takes officers away from real emergencies.

According to the International Chiefs of Police, 20% of users cause 80% of false dispatches. These users are responsible for the strains being put on police and fire departments, and for the costs associated with these services. Each alarm call costs on average, one hour of police time. Precincts with high false alarm rates have to schedule personnel just to cover the alarms they know they will have to answer. Patrol cars suffer wear and tear, and burn gas that is not getting any cheaper.

Some municipalities are responding to the false alarm problem by issuing non-response orders for repeat offenders. This in turn has led to some insurance companies denying coverage to areas affected by non-response orders.

False alarms have become such a problem, municipalities are issuing increasingly higher fines for repeat offenders. Police departments are trying to solve the problem by offering training classes for alarm users.