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Government in monitoring business
September 27, 2019
Government in monitoring business
            In counties which enact ASAP-PSAP, [Automated Secure Alarm Protocol. – ASAP- The Alarm Company Side / Public Safety Answering Point- PSAP- The 911 Center Side] are central monitoring stations not on the platform ultimately prohibited from dispatching on alarm signals?  What might the ramifications be?
Name withheld
            A municipality decides to open its own monitoring center.  It can compete with professional central stations, or it can legislate them out of business by providing that alarms must be programmed to the municipal owned monitoring center.  There was a big fight in Illinois about this which I only vaguely followed.  One county in NY requires all commercial fire alarm accounts to transmit to the municipal owned monitoring center.  No one fights it anymore.  NYC FD requires fire alarms to be monitored by approved monitoring centers, none of whom are owned by any municipality [there are around 14 approved monitoring centers]
            Obviously monitoring centers don’t like competition, especially when the playing field isn’t level, and that would apply to a municipality that decides to enter the monitoring business and require all signals be sent only to its monitoring center.  I don’t think this practice is common, though it may be taking place now in several areas.  
            Justification for the legislation would be exercise of the state’s police powers to provide better services to the public.  While it is highly unlikely that a municipal run monitoring center could provide the scope and level of service that the professionally operated monitoring centers provide, a municipal monitoring center may be able to adequately provide for a single type monitoring service, such as fire. It won’t likely have capacity for verification, video, audio or even ECV.  
            I am not aware of any lawsuits against municipalities arising out of its operation of a monitoring center, but I doubt that governmental immunity would extend to the municipalities’ business operation of the monitoring center.  
            I’m sure those of you in Illinois and Westchester, NY will have comment.  Let’s hear them.

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Ken Kirschenbaum,Esq
Kirschenbaum & Kirschenbaum PC
Attorneys at Law
200 Garden City Plaza
Garden City, NY 11530
516 747 6700 x 301