No safety risk with new RPS alarm re­sponse pol­icy: chief

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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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