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Judd Bradbury

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10/18/05 Verified Response - Options

The attached document provides an overview of the false burglar alarm problem that most US cities are facing and the Department of Justice recommendations for solving this issue. The problem that cities face regarding false burglar alarms is not new and shows no signs of abating. As citizens we have options available to us:

Option 1 ?
Embrace Verified Response 

Verified response is a proven law enforcement technique embraced by the Department of Justice and most major law enforcement organizations. You would have to look far and wide to find a police chief in a major metropolitan city that is not in favor of verified response. Currently in the City of Dallas, if your burglar alarm is activated and it is not followed by a 911 call, you are going to see a Dallas Police Officer in 35-120 minutes. Reliable estimates suggest that verified response will deliver a Dallas Police Officer to the scene of the same burglary in 22 minutes. This week Mark Peck from the Salt Lake City Police Department went further suggesting that they have reduced their burglar alarm response times even further to a combined total of 13-14 minutes. Response time for 911 calls has been reduced from 5 minutes to 3 minutes. Shanna Werner the alarm program administrator for Salt Lake City suggested that from the date of implementation until last week, the grand total of citizen complaints received from the verified response program was ZERO.

Much has been said about the crime rates in Las Vegas and Salt Lake City. A thorough review of the DOJ Uniform Crime Reports suggests that when comparing the five year average of burglaries per 100,000 citizens before VR, versus the five year average of burglaries per 100,000 citizens after VR, a burglary reduction of 15% exists for the 1991 implementation in Las Vegas Nevada, and a burglary reduction of 19% exists for the 2000 implementation in Salt Lake City Utah.

1986-1990 Average Burglaries per 100K Las Vegas = 1800
1991-1995 Average Burglaries per 100K Las Vegas = 1523

(1800-1523) / 1800 = 15% reduction

1995-1999 Average Burglaries per 100K Salt Lake City = 1555
2000-2004 Average Burglaries per 100K Salt Lake City = 1261

(1555-1261) / 1555 = 19% reduction 

Citizens have also expressed concerns suggesting that no one will be coming when my burglar alarm goes off. The proposed ?phase-in plan? for verified response provides for the police department to respond to burglar alarm calls in the same way they do today for a period of several months. Private security companies like CBI Security Services in Salt Lake City will be phased in through private contractual arrangements with burglar alarm providers. CBI guard responders train with the Salt Lake City Police Department and are prepared to be the first ?officer? on the scene. Transition will occur with the police department responding to all burglar alarms while private companies are ramping up, and the DPD will continue to respond to all 911, panic, and verified alarm calls indefinitely. 

To date, not one city that has adopted verified response beyond the political phase has turned back.

Option 2 ?
Continue the Status Quo

Historically the burglar alarm industry answered their own calls as part of the service provided to residential burglar alarm service contracts. Over time, the City of Dallas has allowed the burglar alarm industry to imbed itself into the public safety budget. I believe that the labor cost per false alarm of $58 is accurate and I would assume it provides complete agreement that $50 permit fees did not keep pace with the true cost of servicing false burglar alarm calls for the 66,672 registered permits. It is also true that every one of the false burglar alarm calls required a subsidy of tires, fuel, cruiser maintenance, depreciation, and cruiser accident costs to service. The $8 discrepancy in the permit fee/labor cost calculation clearly demonstrates that the city of Dallas deposited at least $262,400 of the police department budget into the coffers of private alarm companies by servicing their private contracts in 2004. I would bet anyone dinner that the true costs subsidized by non-alarm owners in 2004 surpassed a million dollars.

66,672 registered alarms x $50 permit fee = $3,333,600
62,000 burglar alarm calls x $58 labor per call = $3,596,000

$3,596,000 - $3,333,600 = $262,400 (conservatively)

484,117 housing units in the City of Dallas

66,672 / 484,117 = 14% of housing units with alarms

100% - 14% = 86% of housing units w/o an alarm paid $262,400 bill to industry 

10/19/05 Callie Stephens:
Your quote from Privatization Watch is blatantly deceptive and not applicable to Dallas.  The statement "false alarm activations increase an average of 10% per year" may be true nationwide, but not in Dallas.
   Over 8 years ago, Dallas Police reported over 140,000 alarm calls.  Last year, they reported around 66,000 calls - and that is with significantly more alarm systems in Dallas today than 8 years ago.  The alarm industry, at least in Dallas, has been highly successful in reducing total alarm calls by well over 50%.
   Your article leaves Dallas citizens with the impression that false alarms were going up every year in Dallas by 10% while they are actually decreasing.  Leaving that impression does not accomplish your stated goal of "getting accurate information to the public".
   Your most serious deception goes back to the impression that non-alarm owners are paying for the police to respond to alarm owners.  You and the police department have both distorted that point.  The police department has sent false and misleading information out to Dallas citizens in brochures and letters paid for by taxpayers, according to the DMN.  In fact, in  Sherry Jacobson's DMN 10/11 article, she quoted Kunkle himself that
"the burglar alarm program pays for itself."  His quotation in brochures and letters to Dallas citizens states alarm owners were being "subsidized" by taxpayers that do not have alarms.  This goes way beyond misinformation.
   According to the Los Angeles Task Force Report that resulted in LA dropping VR before it was initiated, over 80% of alarm owners in LA had ZERO false alarms in a twelve month period.  That study jives with similar estimates here in Dallas.  Those alarm owners are contributing more revenue for police in Dallas than the people that don't have alarms
and the police did not come to their homes once.  The fees and fines more than pay for police response.  It is straight bullshit that alarm owners are wasting police resources.  They are paying for those resources.  To infer otherwise is demagoguery.
   My most serious concern is that wealthy and middle-class alarm owners will most certainly hire security patrols,  while lower income citizens of South Dallas, who already suffer the highest crime rates and need security the most, will be who suffer the most. 
   Sadly, it appears you have manipulated stats and facts to justify your position.  But when stats and facts are presented fully, honestly and objectively, I don't think the average citizen would come to the same conclusion that you have.  
   Middle and upper middle class citizens can afford security gates and security patrols to protect them.  Most citizens cannot.  The most basic and fundamental responsibility of local government is to protect its citizens from crime.  Dallas is failing at that responsibility with the highest total crime rate per capita and highest burglary rate per capita among cities over a million in population for 8 YEARS IN A ROW.  Crime reduction is the police's responsibility, not the responsibility of private business.
   VR is just a smokescreen.  It will not save money, and it will not reduce crime.  It keeps everyone from debating the real issue:  How does Dallas get 750 additional police it needs to be able to provide an authority presence on our streets and be able to implement "broken windows" so we can seriously reduce crime - not distort and disguise it with smoke and mirrors and verified response.
Calie Stephens,
10/20/05 Judd Bradbury response:
10/20/05 Response from Judd Bradbury to Callie Stephens:
In my existence, there has never been a statement that I have presented to anyone that has been intentionally deceptive.  
volunteer to serve in the capacity that I do.  Mr. Stephens is advocating a certain position, and that is healthy for the city.  
I would not speak about Ms. Jacobson's background without knowledge, but, if the city continues on its present course, it should engage an activity based cost accountant to make an annual determination about the true cost of the alarm program. Given the geographic distribution of alarms in the city, you are going to have a pretty tough time making the case that you are advocating for those that are less fortunate.

In the November 2002 issue of Privatization Watch, Erwin Blackstone & Simon Hakim found that police budgets increase an average of 3% per year while false alarm activations increase an average of 10% per year. Additionally, alarm permit fees typically flow into the general fund and not the police department budget. The City of Dallas has increased our public safety budget an average of 1.2% annually over the last 10 years. We have also reached the state cap on sales tax rates so there will be no more free lunch for the tax and spend status quo. As false alarm activations grow, we are slowly hollowing out the police department budget in favor of response to false burglar alarms. 

If members of the Dallas City Council reject the verified response proposal they must recommend new policies like a permit fee lock box for the burglar alarm response program and an annual activity based cost analysis to determine burglar alarm response cost. As an ethical government entity, the city must be accountable to non-alarm citizens to ensure that they received every tax dollar of their police department budget. The city should also be accountable to alarm owning citizens to ensure that they have not been overtaxed with excessive alarm permit fees.

Verified response does not require the city to incur these costs to ensure tax fairness and accountability.

Option 3 ? The Los Angeles Option

After buckling under the pressure of burglar alarm industry lobbyists, the City of Los Angeles backed itself into the position of maintaining a system of verified response that fines the residential alarm owner increasing amounts for each successive false burglar alarm. The first two false alarms at a registered address do not require verification but the third and successive false alarms all require verified response. This may sound like an appealing option until the details are revealed. Prior to adoption, the false alarm rate in the city of Los Angeles was 92%. When I spoke with Lieutenant Andre Dawson of the LAPD last week he suggested that the false alarm rate was about 90% today. The city of Los Angeles is also in the bid process for a software application required to administer their program. The approximate cost of that software application is $500,000 of tax dollars.

I am opposed to this type of approach for three reasons.

1)      Reducing the rate of false burglar alarms from 92% to 90% is a minor improvement.

2)      If a similar approach is used in Dallas, the city will have to invest approximately $500,000 for a false alarm tracking system.

3)      The option punishes the residential burglar alarm owner for equipment and training problems that are the responsibility of the alarm industry.

If you are a homeowner, verified response will require you to pay your alarm company roughly the same amount you are currently paying for your alarm permit. Most importantly, you will receive much faster response from a Dallas Police Officer when a crime event occurs. Verified Response is the option that the US Department of Justice COPS program recommends and it is the option that I support.

Judd D. Bradbury





  Ward politics is the Devil's key to the soul of the city council.  It is how some council members got themselves in trouble in the past.  It is the bait that will get others in trouble in the future. 4/6/8