Regina police change responding policy to cut back on cost of false alarms

Regina police believe they will improve response times and public safety by mitigating the number of false alarms officers respond to each day.

Enhanced Call Verification kicks in Jan. 1

Elizabeth Nguyen, the Regina police dispatch centre communications manager, says changing how officers are dispatched to alarm calls should free them up for higher priority calls and have no negative impact on public safety. (Brian Rodgers/CBC)

Regina police hope a new policy will help officers respond to fewer false alarms in 2019.

Starting Jan. 1, the police service will be focusing on a City of Regina bylaw that keeps officers from responding to excessive false alarm calls.

Dispatchers will no longer send officers to "one hit" alarms, where only one zone has been tripped in a building. 

There is also more onus on alarm monitoring companies. Companies will be responsible for "Enhanced Call Verification" where attempts must be made to contact two key holders before contacting police. 

"This really stuck out to us as an area that we could really be more efficient in deploying our officers," Elizabeth Nguyen, Regina police's dispatch centre communications manager, said.

"Our officers will be more available to attend to valid alarm activations, higher priority calls and there should be no increased risk to the public."

Nguyen said out of about 4,000 alarm calls Regina police officers responded to in 2017, only 34 of them were deemed valid. Officers respond to about 12 alarm calls each day and 99 per cent of those calls continue to be deemed false. 

"We see a lot of front door and back door motions that are due to low batteries and the alarm sensor that sends out a message to the alarm company. they call and say, like, we're getting some sort of message from the house and we don't know what it is. And when we get there, the door is secure," she said, adding that things like cats, falling plants and shifting balloons can also trigger alarms.

Police also will not respond to alarm calls at commercial properties during regular business hours. They will still respond to all calls that involve panic, hold-ups or duress, along with all verified alarm activations.

The bylaw has been in place since 2004 and the number of false alarms has come down significantly since that time.

According to the document, officers were sent to 9,632 false alarms in 2002, which was approximately 17 per cent of their total calls for service. 


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