Kitchener-Waterloo

Police say 'never again' after spending nearly $500K on false alarms

The Waterloo Regional Police Service spent nearly half a million dollars sending officers to false alarm calls last year, according to new numbers from police.

97 per cent of calls from alarm systems were false alarms

The Waterloo Regional Police Service is implementing a new Verified Alarm Response Program in 2020, to cut down on false alarm calls. (Kate Bueckert/CBC)

The Waterloo Regional Police Service spent nearly $500,000 sending officers to false alarm calls last year, according to new numbers from police.

Officers received 5,060 alarm calls last year, and only three per cent of them were legitimate emergencies.

The problem is with both home and business security systems, said police administrator Kate Richardson.

"There's a whole variety of reasons of why an alarm may go off," she said, adding that faulty alarm installation, storms and wandering pets have all led to false alarms.

Verified by WRPS

The police service hopes to save time and money by moving to a Verified Alarm Response Program, which will put the onus on alarm monitoring companies to verify if an alarm is real before officers are sent out.

Alarm companies can verify calls by using audio or video surveillance, or by waiting for multiple alarms to be tripped, indicating that someone is trying to break in.

An eyewitness on scene, such as a security guard, could also confirm the alarm.

Police say officers will still respond to hold-up, panic or duress alarms without verifying them first.

The service plans to roll out the new verification system on January 1, 2020. After that, home or business owners will be on the hook for a $170 fee if officers are required to respond to a false alarm call.

Police in Hamilton, London and Niagara are among neighbouring areas to implement similar Verified Alarm Response Programs, the WRPS says.