Taking the Sting out of Surprise

Taking the Sting out of Surprise

Why audio alarm verification is important to law enforcement

It is a story as old as time. Burglars and thieves break into a business, cause major damage to the property, and get away with valuables that can be costly to replace— not to mention potentially company proprietary information. Even with a security system in place, a lot of these breakins generate slow police response or go undetected with law enforcement not notified until the owner arrives the next morning. So, what went wrong? Was the system poorly designed? Was there an equipment malfunction? Did the police not arrive in time to catch the criminals? Maybe the technology being used does not provide for verification?

The successes related to having audio alarm verification can be ascertained through industry research, which shows there have been over 179,000 documented apprehensions and counting since 1977. It is widely known that audio alarm verification is unique and assists to decrease police response time, and significantly increase the chance of apprehending criminals and preventing the loss of goods.

In fact, audio alarms provide law enforcement critical intelligence before entering an active crime scene that cannot be received from a non-verified alarm system or by a video verification alone. Additionally, they help reduce the number of false alarms, allow better alignment of the number of responding police resources, and is proven to help apprehend more criminals.

What is a Verified Audio Alarm?

The company who invented audio alarm verification, Sonitrol, created a unique, patented audio technology—effectively intelligent microphones combined with human operator intelligence. Upon arming the security system, the audio sensors are constantly listening for unusual or impact-activated sounds of entry, or they are triggered by other devices such as motion sensors, door contact, glass breaks sensors, etc.

The initial sounds of entry along with live audio is then transmitted in real-time to a central station operator, who is then able to determine if there is an actual alarm event occurring, and if so, will immediately dispatch police. The audio quality is such that the central station operators are able to isolate and determine where the audio is coming from in the facility (different rooms or places within a business), and in many cases, what the intruders are saying. This critical information may also be provided real-time to live 911 dispatchers. If video verification is also added to the business’ security system, they also can see live video of the intruders, and permit the central station operators to visually report what the intruders are doing, and where they are located in the facility, providing an additional level of verification. See a powerful example of an actual break-in and apprehension by clicking on this link and see for yourself the power of a Sonitrol verified audio and video alarms.

When law enforcement officers are able to receive this crucial, real-time information related to the active alarm event in progress, they have the critical advantage needed to ensure their safety and permit them to successfully apprehend the intruders.

“As officers are responding to crimes in progress, having as close to ‘real-time’ intelligence as we can get about what is occurring, including how many possible suspects, what they are doing and saying, helps shape the first responding officers tactical planning, enabling officers to update and modify in-progress crime responses as the situation evolves, ultimately resulting in increased officer safety,” said Gary Woodruff, deputy chief of police at Lawrence Police Department.

Providing Vital Information

Audio alarms also provide law enforcement with vital information such as how the criminal came into the building. Conventional ways of criminals getting into a building would be to break-in through the front/back door or smash a window. However, unconventional ways, such as entering through the ceiling, or through the HVAC ductwork, not only provides for earlier detection of the event but gives officers a better understanding of an active criminal mindset.

Every second counts in stopping crime and with the early detection capability of an impact activated audio system, provides the responding officers with the added advantage of early detection and increases the likelihood of apprehension.

“Every police officer lives for the opportunity to respond to and interdict crime in progress. Catching criminals is part of our DNA,” Woodruff said. “Increasing our opportunities to do so, as opposed to simply responding to take a report post-crime, contribute to an effective crime-reduction solution.”

Since law enforcement tends to respond to verified alarms and actual threatening alarm events first before responding to non-verified alarm events, the importance of your business having verified alarm technology should be of importance to every alarm system user. According to Partnership for Priority Verified Alarm Response (PPVAR), if a business with a security system that has historically generated many false alarms, law enforcement may not prioritize your next alarm event, which may be a problem if there ever is an actual alarm event. When officers have to respond to false alarms, this naturally results in wasted time and resources, which should be directed towards responding to other actual alarm and other life safety events.

Countering False Alarms

Considering about 98 percent of security-related alarms are false, police departments are becoming frustrated and are understaffed to respond quickly to each alarm. Many cities have passed ordinances that now require fines to be levied for when police have to respond to a false alarm. In addition, many cities or municipalities are now requiring additional forms of verification, such as two calls before they will respond.

There seems to be hesitation for companies to adopt alarm verification because of cost, however audio and video alarm verification can help law enforcement arrive quicker significantly reducing the chance of loss of goods and increasing the chance of apprehensions. When you can successfully explain the consumer’s investment value, audio and video alarm verification can become a standard in your city. PPVAR provides tools to security dealers who can collaborate with police departments to adopt required verified alarm verification and policies within their cities.

Sonitrol was founded by a police officer more than 55 years ago because he was tired of responding to false alarms and not catching criminals. Partnering with an inventor, they were able to create the audio verification technology that is still effectively used today. Sonitrol is also an integrated security company, combining their audio verification technology with video verification, managed access control, video verification and surveillance and fire monitoring. Total- Guard, is an all-in-one IoT multi-sensor device that provides impact audio and video verification, motion and glass break detection, wireless connectivity, live view and arm/disarm with the Sonitrol Mobile App and is professionally monitored 24/7 by highly trained Central Station operators. This single device provides an affordable solution for small to medium businesses looking for an easy to use and verified security intrusion system.

With the continued partnership with law enforcement and continued technological advances, Sonitrol has been able to report over 179,000 documented criminal apprehensions.

This article originally appeared in the May/June 2019 issue of Security Today.

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