The Challenge Continues
During the first 10 months of 2014, police responded to 19,297 alarm assignments. 9,293 of those assignments were for a business and 10,004 were for a residential property. Of those 19,297 alarm assignments, 19,006 (98.5%) proved to be false. When police spend valuable time responding to false alarms, citizens with legitimate safety needs had to sit and wait.
During the 5-year period between 2009 and 2013, Cleveland police officers responded to 119,288 alarm assignments. Responding officers found no evidence of criminal or attempted criminal activity in 97.42 percent of those responses. That trend is continuing in 2014.
False Alarm Responses January 1 through October 31, 2014
*The variance between response requested and dispatched was caused by alarm monitoring companies calling police communications and cancelling a call before police arrival.
Policing is expensive
The salary costs of deploying two uniformed police officers in a police car, 24 hours a day, seven days a week is $728,980.56 per year. This quarter-million dollar cost does not include overtime, which averages out to about $10,000 per year per officer, nor the cost of the vehicle, fuel and maintenance, specialized police equipment in the vehicle (radio, computer, automated vehicle locators), or the officer’s body armor, supplies, firearms, and hand-held radios.
Assistant Director of Public Safety Tim Hennessy stated that the total cost of deploying one 2-officer police car in the neighborhoods of the City of Cleveland ‘approaches one million dollars annually.’ Most would agree that we have a collective duty and responsibility to ensure our officers are deployed in the most effective and efficient manner possible. Chasing false alarms, most caused by human error, isn’t effective, efficient or smart.
Cleveland City Council introduced legislation earlier this year to establish requirements for alarms companies and to create sanctions for repeated false alarms. The Cleveland Division of Police will continue to work with Cleveland City Council to review and improve amended legislation and find an effective solution that makes the best use of our police resources.
—- Martin L. Flask, Executive Assistant to the Mayor for Special Projects