Alberta RCMP change alarm response policy to free up resources

RCMP in Alberta are no longer responding to alarms that are triggered just once, saying the practice has not been a good use of resources.

In 2017, RCMP received 15,500 one-hit false alarms using 8,000 staff hours

Alberta RCMP will no longer respond to alarms that are triggered just once. (CBC)

RCMP in Alberta are no longer responding to alarms that are triggered just once, saying the practice has not been a good use of resources.

"With one-hit alarms, we had received 15,500 of them last year which took up about 8,000 human resource hours," Cpl. Chris Warren said Tuesday. Those hours could have been dedicated to more urgent calls, he said.

A one-hit alarm means one motion sensor in a home or business has been tripped. 

Someone illegally entering a building is likely to trip multiple sensors, Warren said.

"The likelihood of somebody moving about a property with a one-hit, it's just not happening," he said.

"A one-hit on a garage door can be a strong wind," Warren said. "That would not necessitate a police response if that was the only trigger coming up."

Policy exceptions

RCMP will still respond to ATM, multi-zone intrusion, panic, duress, holdup, glass break, domestic violence and verified alarms, the latter of which include any alarm at a school or financial institution during business hours.

The new policy came into effect on July 13, following a review done over the last year, he said.

"We police a diverse amount of communities from towns of a few thousand people up to a hundred thousand or more, so we needed something that kind of suits all of our members and makes sure they are deployed effectively and efficiently," Warren said.

The hope is the policy change will help officers better prioritize their work and allow them to be out and about more in their communities, he said.

After determining that 96 per cent of all reported intrusion alarms in 2016 were false, the Edmonton Police Service changed its policy to help tackle an increased demand on police resources, according to its website.

All intrusion alarms now face an extra level of verification and officers are only dispatched if there is a combination of an exterior breach — a breach of a door / window or breaking glass — plus interior motion alarm activations, and if officers can reach a key holder to determine the legitimacy of the alarm.