False Alarm Update: Fremont, Simi Valley, East Providence

3/21/2005

Fremont, CA — Verified response is now a reality in Fremont, Calif., as the city’s police put its previously delayed new alarm response policy into effect on March 20. Under the new policy, Fremont police aren’t responding to burglar alarms unless a resident, property owner or alarm company employee is able to show evidence that a crime occurred, such as glass breakage or seeing a suspicious person.

Fremont Police Chief Craig Steckler ordered the new policy on on Jan. 20, but delayed it on Feb. 16 for a month while issuing a warning that there would be no further delays. Fremont is the first California city to go to a full verified response policy.

The Argus reports the new policy was put to the test less than two hours after it went into effect.

At 1:27 a.m. March 20, Sonitrol notified police of a verified break-in at Warwick Elementary School. Sonitrol says it was able to verify the alarm because listening devices it had installed detected voices and movements in classrooms. Police officers surrounded the campus and arrested three 17-year-old boys for attempted burglary.

In the first 11 hours of the new policy, there were five alarm calls in all, in which only the school call proved not to be false. Fremont insurance salesman Dennis Wolfe, who has been an outspoken critic of the new policy, told The Argus that those calls are a sign that criminals are already stepping up their work in Fremont.

“It’s just the beginning. Twenty-percent — one out of five — of the alarms (Sunday) morning were real. That’s a far cry from the 1 percent the (police) chief said were real,” Wolfe says.