SPD to limit alarm responses

The Seattle Police Department is urging residents who subscribe to an alarm service to check if their vendor is properly licensed with the City.  Beginning next year, the department will limit unlicensed burglary alarm responses.

Effective January 1, 2009, the Seattle Police Department will not respond to requests from alarm companies to dispatch officers to a monitored burglary alarm when the alarm company cannot provide a valid Unique Identifying Number (UIN) to the 911 call-taker.  The City of Seattle Department of Executive Administration – Revenue and Consumer Affairs issues a UIN to each licensed alarm company. Vendors are required to provide their UIN to 911 dispatchers when reporting alarms.  Alarm vendors without a UIN are unlicensed and are in violation of City Code.

This provision of the Seattle Municipal Code will affect burglary alarm dispatches only; any robbery, hold-up or panic alarm call received by the Seattle Police Department will be dispatched, even if the alarm company cannot provide a UIN.

There are more than 200 alarm vendors operating in the City of Seattle.  Most of these businesses currently operate with proper licensing.  Subscribers can easily verify if their alarm company is properly registered by checking the Seattle Police Department Web site.

Alarm companies are also required to use enhanced call verification (ECV) for all burglary alarms.  ECV is a monitoring procedure requiring that the alarm company, prior to making an alarm dispatch request, make a minimum of two phone calls.  This is done by calling the location of the alarm first and then a secondary number determined by the subscriber, often a cell phone number.  ECV is only required for burglary alarms, not hold-up or panic alarms. Beginning January 1, 2009, the Seattle Police Department will not respond to requests from alarm companies to dispatch officers to a monitored burglary alarm when the alarm company has not utilized ECV.

All alarm companies known to operate within the City of Seattle, both licensed and unlicensed, have been notified of these regulations.  Notification has also been made to alarm companies through the Washington Burglar & Fire Alarm Association, the Central Station Alarm Association, Security Info Watch and Security Systems News.  Several alarm companies have already taken measures to become licensed.  It is estimated that approximately 40 companies have yet to follow procedures necessary to obtain proper licensing.

Customers who do not find their vendor on the list of licensed alarm companies should contact their alarm customer service representative and inquire about the company’s licensing.  Alarm vendors who are not listed on the Police Department’s registry are urged to contact Inspector Sonny Ortiz at (206) 684-8401 or Inspector Terry Boyle at (206) 684-8406.

Citizens with questions are encouraged to view this FAQ or may contact the False Alarm Unit directly at 206-684-7713.