No safety risk with new RPS alarm response policy: chief
A day after the Regina Police Service (RPS) alerted the public to a change in its response to alarm calls, Chief Evan Bray defended the move.Speaking to reporters at Wednesday’s Board of Police Commissioners meeting, Bray said mounting pressure on resources prompted the RPS to reassess the policy in an attempt to make it more efficient.Bray gave assurances the new plan won’t result in real emergencies slipping through the cracks.“If it’s just a single motion alarm in the house and you don’t have any other entry point alarms that are coming in, chances are it could be a draft in the house, a balloon blowing, a cat walking, those types of things,” Bray said in explaining the move away from responding to “one hit” alarms.Judging by some of the reaction on social media in the wake of the change, announced Tuesday, some members of the public seem confused and upset by exactly what it means.“So if you only have a single zone alarm (IE: the punks kicked in your front door) the police will no longer attend? What does our police service actually do anymore other than fine collection?” wrote one poster to the Leader-post’s Facebook page.“This is a stupid decision overall!!” wrote another.In a news release announcing its new policy, effective Jan. 1, the RPS said it expects the change to result in improved response times for more pressing calls.Officers currently respond to 12 alarm calls every day — 99 per cent of which end up being false. Police said part of this is due to the growth Regina has experienced in recent years, which has led to a significant increase in dispatch requests.Under the new Enhanced Call Verification policy, officers won’t routinely be sent to “one hit” alarm activations, in which only one zone was activated in a premise.In order for the new system to work, the RPS said it will need the help of alarm monitoring companies to ensure police get enough information when an alarm goes off. Alarm monitoring companies will also need to conduct what police referred to as “enhanced call verification,” meaning the company must try to contact at least two key holders before calling in the police.“If it was a roof hatch or there was glass breaking, then we would dispatch,” Elizabeth Nguyen, RPS communications manager, further explained Wednesday. “But if it was just one hit on the front door, no other indicators that it could be a valid alarm, we wouldn’t dispatch in that situation.”“As long as (contact information) is up to date, and alarm companies have attempted to call those two key holders, we would be dispatching.”The RPS did an assessment based on the new policy.“If we put that over what last year looked like, we still would have responded to all calls where we caught suspects in the location,” Bray said.“I think we’ve come up with something that really still maintains safety and security in our city, but allows us to manage resources a little bit better,” he added.Police will no longer be dispatched to alarm calls at commercial locations during regular business hours. However, all calls involving panic, holdups, duress alarms and verified alarm activations will still be attended by police.The RPS said the change will bring Regina in line with alarm response models used by police forces in major cities across Canada and North America.
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