More Inspiration From Det Robinson - Alarm Permits see below for next webinar - Don't miss tomorrow's webinar:
Part 2: Pull Marketing Strategy
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October 12, 2015
MORE INSPIRATION FROM DET ROBINSON - PERMIT FEES FROM SEPTEMBER 23, 2015 ARTICLE
Security industry newsflash... How to save thousands maybe millions by spending $17 to $25 dollars up front and you will never know it happened if you’re one of the lucky ones.
Now that we have them reading this newsletter,,, they need to stay tuned in and I will explain in detail using the issue you posted by Steve Hunter about the subscriber alarm permit fees in Florida.
I looked up the Palatka Fla. Alarm code to see what it says:
Maybe Steve should read the Palatka Fla. Alarm code again and reconsider his position after reading my comments in your newsletter.
I do not think that the cost of their alarm permit ($25.00) is making Palatka a fat cash cow for sure, but there is definitely an incentive for the alarm business to do their part to stay in step with PD. When are people going to wake up and realize that things usually go smoother if the security industry recognizes that they need to dance in step with the local AHJ who is developing alarm ordinances from the recommendations and the suggestions of the “big picture” professional associations in the security industry in order to help you (big guys to little guys) continue to sell quality security systems or services (CMS monitoring) and avoid backlash from LE agencies or protect you from your own ignorant liability instead of butting heads because the “I will do it my way” testosterone is flowing. Go have lunch at Burger King if you want it your way.
I can not speak “officially” to the specifics about the enforcement of another LE jurisdiction alarm user permit requirements but I can give you an example, from a lawsuit that I was involved in, of why alarm user permits are extremely important for PD agencies and even important for the security industry to reduce liability if they embrace this concept. This also completes the circle to prove my point about the issue of having the correct contract for the premises; residential or commercial, that I brought up a few newsletters ago. So Mr. Anon from Texas had better pay attention here…
An alarm subscriber had an attorney file a “notice of claim” against the City of Phoenix alleging that the Phoenix Police Department officers failed to do their duty when responding to an alarm call at their “residence” that had an alarm activation where the police were dispatched by the CMS [central monitoring station] but their “business” still got cleaned out by the bad guys. The content of the memos speak volumes about the liability of the CMS for not having a valid alarm permit from the AHJ on file in the subscriber monitoring records and the liability of the alarm company when you intentionally hide a commercial account as a residential contract after the subscriber ends up getting ripped off and then decides to hire an aggressive attorney that knows a forensic alarm expert who is looking to sue somebody with $$$ deep pockets.
The key elements in the notice of claim are the facts that:
1. This was a hidden commercial account under a residential contract set up by the alarm dealer.
2. The CMS failed to use the Phoenix PD alarm permit number for this account when calling for PD dispatch, which is illegal per the Phoenix Alarm Code. The 3rd party CMS did not know the permit number, even though the subscriber had obtained it and Phx PD records show a copy of the original permit was mailed out to the alarm dealer who I assume did not pass this on to the CMS.
3. The CMS only had one phone number for the RP which was no good and they were not able to perform the required premises plus 2 call ECV (3 phone calls or video + 2 calls or audio + 2 calls) before calling for dispatch. Phoenix is unique with the premise plus 2 ECV requirement and I would love to explain why Phoenix does that but it would take another multi-page newsletter.
Amazingly enough, the subscriber did obtain a permit to operate the alarm system under his business name at the correct address, but because the CMS did not know the permit number when they called to report the “residential” alarm to the Phoenix PSAP it did not match up to the existing permit for the business when the PSAP operator did an address search in the Phoenix PD permit database looking to match it to the “Carlos residence” at the W. McDowell address, so the PSAP operator entered the call without a permit number exactly as it was described by the CMS, a residential alarm at the Carlos residence on W. McDowell Rd.
In this case the officer responded to the correct address that was a strip mall on W McDowell Rd. where he was looking for a residential premises. He reported in his shift activity log that the location was a bad address, no residential properties at this address, only business locations and since the CMS said that there was no RP to respond, the officer went on down the street to the next call for service that was waiting to be dispatched…while the bad guys stayed there and cleaned house, I mean business. The rest is history as they say, no matter how hard you try, you can never put the toothpaste back into the tube the same as it came out. Are you the “I will do it my way” type, go give it a try and reply back to Ken and let us know how it went…
This emphasizes why Phoenix and other LE agencies made it illegal (or fine) for a CMS to call and request PD dispatch if they do not have the permit number for a subscriber account. Phoenix sends out “no permit” warning letters first by 1st class mail to your subscribers and then by certified mail if they do not reply to the first letter and 1 or 2 copies of the same letter go to the alarm company explaining that a permit is required. The no permit warning letters are sent to the alarm company “on record” based on what alarm company name the CMS was using when they called PD to report the alarm. Obviously we can not send the warning letter to the CMS that called PD if the 3rd party CMS is layered behind an alarm company name, which is the mess I stirred up in the Kirschenbaum newsletters back on 08-25-15.
You have to understand that if there is no permit on file and the CMS calls in the alarm for the first time we have absolutely nothing to go on except what the CMS told us. Do you ever sign up a subscriber for a 5 year monitoring contract and just put down the address and name of your customer (if you are not hiding it) but then leave all of their other personal info, billing address, RP names, phone numbers, etc. blank hoping to get paid? Try it sometime and see how LE agencies feel when the CMS calls us in the middle of the night with nothing but the name and address. Then when the LE alarm coordinator calls the CMS back in a couple of days to get a little more info about the subscriber they refuse to talk to LE about this account because of their liability if they release the information. And the wheel goes round n round…
It is the dealer’s responsibility to tell their 3rd party CMS what the permit number is for all of their subscribers. It is the responsibility of the CMS not to put an account online without a valid permit number when required by the AHJ, but they do it all of the time because the CMS think they can hide behind their contract indemnity clause with the dealer. The good news for me, bad news for them is that their indemnity clause does not protect them from breaking the law as Ken explained. Even though it is illegal for the CMS to request dispatch without the permit I have not arrested a CMS operator yet like I have several alarm business owners, alarm salesman and alarm techs. I’m thinking maybe I should arrest a CMS person at least once before I retire so I can complete the hat trick. Do I have any CMS volunteer, who wants to be the first to show your peers how well your indemnity clause works? I do not have to chase you over hill and dale like Ken said, I’ll just wait for one of you to come to the Phoenix area for some industry event like the ADI Expo, ESA leadership conference or the CSAA fall operations management seminar next month. Oh, by the way, now that the TSA does a records check, even if you fly to Phoenix for vacation with your family to play golf and there is a warrant for your arrest they notify PD who will help you off the plane, just like my convicted alarm salesman when he came back to Phoenix with his wife to see their son for Christmas after he tried to hide from me in North Carolina. Just think, you can tell all of your peers that you got to stay in the famous Sherriff Joe’s grey bar hotel, you’ll even get a “Ladmo bag” for lunch with the famous green baloney sandwich plus you get to sleep in tents with a bunkmate and wear pink underwear with matching pink slippers, maybe if you’re lucky you’ll even get a picture of you with Sherriff Joe to commemorate your stay in! stead of just the booking mug shot that goes out on the web so your friends can Google it. It is a good thing for you I have a lot of patience and a sense of humor! You all in the CMS have been lucky I have not done that so far, others have not been so lucky. This law has primarily been used as a liability push if something bad happens when PD can not find the location of the alarm system and some subscriber along with their attorney thinks they are going to get filthy rich because a big city PD like Phoenix messed up. This “liability push” from PD to the CMS, alarm company and subscriber works pretty well as you will read.
I can not stress enough how beneficial it is for everyone if the alarm company obtains the first permit for their customer while they are sitting at the table filling out the monitoring contract. This is the #1 reason that the 3rd party CMS or the CMS for a national dealer should make it mandatory that all sales persons or installing dealers are required to obtain the first subscriber alarm permit from the AHJ for your customer when they submit a monitoring contract. Besides reducing their liability, it is an extremely good customer relations PR move with LE agencies and your customer, then you can pass the permit fee onto the customer by explaining the AHJ requires this to be done (go ahead, throw me under that big nasty AHJ makes me do this bus, I have thick skin).
Another benefit aside from reducing your liability and being a good PR move is that in Phoenix (and even in Palatka Fla.) the subscriber and alarm company qualifies for a “grace period” if they submit their original permit application within 10 business days of a new install going online. In Phoenix we even start this grace period over again for an existing (permitted) customer that upgrades to a new control panel if they tell us in writing (copy of service ticket) within 10 business days from install. This grace period gives the subscriber and the alarm company 30 days of no false alarm charges no matter how many times the police are dispatched during this initial 30 days of “user learning curve” or “equipment burn in” period. What could get better than free false alarms for 30 days while you are waiting to see if this customer understood the user training or your equipment blows up? In Phoenix we will even give out a certificate to wave one false alarm charge free if they install a CP-01 rated panel or take down old PIR’s and replace all of them with CP-01 rated PIR motion detectors. Is the AHJ trying to kill you’re your business or help you guys sell upgrades to improve the reliability of security systems and reduce your liability?
Hello people, do you hear me??? Good public relations with LE and customer service are the trademarks of a reputable company that can look back at their pedigree over several decades with pride. Is that you, or are you one of “them” that has to hide your identity behind a dealer program or create a new LLC to change your name every few years because you have a bad public reputation for aggressive sales staff that ticks off the public citizens or by trying to sell massive numbers of systems with lick-n-stick quality installations (I’ve inspected them) or the LE community kicks you out of their jurisdiction? We all know who you are… Reminds me of working the streets and dealing with the roach infested slumlord apartments that change their name under the perfume cloud of “new ownership” every year because eventually everybody that moved in smells the real stench and moves out so they put up the new signs, change their name with a new LLC because they need to find a new group of victims who do not know their name/reputation to lease an apartment. I may not be as financially rich as them, but at least I have riches thru my relationships based on integrity and honor when I look back in the mirror.
Enough of that, because there are a lot of you out there that are doing their best to do it right. I know at least one very large CMS with a national dealer program (You know who you are, thank you very much! You can reply to Ken and take credit for this if you want to brag a little) that will not fund the installing dealer for their contract or put it online until the dealer submits proof of the paid permit from the City of Phoenix for the subscriber, basically no permit, no funding or payment for the contract. The dealers usually line up at our office door on Friday morning with a stack of permit applications for their accounts they installed that week. Can you please train everybody else how to do that?
Does anyone out there in the security industry have a good excuse that they would like to share as to why an alarm company should not get the very first alarm permit for their customer at the same time they are signing the monitoring contract? I would like to hear your response, please e-mail it to Ken so he can post it because I am sure others would like to hear your reasoning as well.
So, how do you save thousands maybe millions by spending $17 to $25 dollars up front?
Ken, maybe you can help me here to understand this; who has deeper pockets, the 3rd party CMS, the BIG DEALER PROGRAM or the little dealer working out of his trunk? Ken, Is there an insurance company that will stand up and pay a claim for a client that is breaking the AHJ laws (either not aware of the law because they are not licensed for their trade as required by the AHJ, or licensed by the AHJ but not knowledgeable of the law) when it can be shown that following the AHJ law would/could have prevented the damages if the client followed the law? Would you be willing to agree with me that getting the first alarm permit from the AHJ for the subscriber and paying for a $17.00 permit fee in Phoenix or $25.00 in Palatka Fla (which can be recovered from the subscriber) is undoubtedly the best money they can spend for their own protection when compared to your legal fees, expert witness fees and the potential for a multi-million dollar settlement?
I do not know how much this civil case ended up costing the CMS (I know this CMS is one of your readers) that did not have a permit number or the dealer (I hope he is not a reader because he should not be in business) that hid the commercial as a residential, but I bet the lawyer found a way to get paid by someone after Phoenix shut him down. I do not care how much the alarm company or the CMS has to pay in legal fees because all I care about is eliminating the liability of the Phoenix Police Department and I am pretty good at using the laws in the Phoenix Alarm Code to do that if anybody wants to give it a try.
So can someone from a CMS please tell me how hard is it to sort the accounts in your CMS software database to check the permit numbers and look for the accounts that do not have any permit number listed? Ask yourself, how much of your RMR does it take to hire a “jurisdiction alarm coordinator” to check on this compared to how much profit you could lose in attorney fees if you come up short on just one case? I have heard about some multi-million dollar lawsuits being awarded and if this happens to be you then an attorney hooked up with someone like Zwirn would probably have a field day with this kind of intel. What if the damages could have been mitigated or prevented for the cost of a $17.00 alarm permit fee? What if you are the one that has a commercial account hidden under a residential contract the next time? Do yourself a favor by taking a little time to look at the accounts in your database now or else start a savings account to pay your attorney later instead of buying that vacation home. I will throw you a bone: SIAC Security Industry Alarm Coalition even maintains a list of the jurisdictions with alarm codes to make it easier for you to get started.
Sorry Ken, I am not trying to cut down on your litigation profits. I know someone will miss this point and come looking for you to bail them out.
Let’s get back to the notice of claim filed against Phoenix.
You can see in issue #1 on my report that the CMS had the contract from the dealer that listed the business / commercial account as a residence. The CMS is pointing their finger at the dealer here hoping to dodge the bullet. Enough said about that or does somebody out there still want to discuss this? Reply and let Ken post it.
You can see in issue #2 on my report that the CMS only had a single phone number for the RP which ended up being a bad number. The monitoring contract on file with the CMS did not have the phone numbers for the required ECV enhanced call verification process. Per the Phoenix alarm ordinance it is illegal for a CMS to call the Phx PSAP and request dispatch unless they have completed premises plus 2 ECV. Hey CMS software vendors, are you out there paying attention?? If the CMS had stopped the account from going online in the first place by having a required ECV field for the ECV phone numbers programmed in their software database and kicked this back to the dealer before this incident happened they could have probably avoided litigation. How does it look to an attorney or a forensic expert when the CMS does not perform their basic due diligence process to follow the local AHJ laws that would have prevented a client from being harmed by holding up their indemnity clause with the dealer as an excuse? What do you think Ken, Jeff, smells like blood in the water to a shark?
Issue #3 on my report points out why it is the responsibility of the alarm company or CMS to contact the RP or to make arrangements for someone to meet the police during any alarm activation. The Phoenix alarm ordinance prohibits a CMS from requesting PD dispatch if they fail to reach an RP during ECV or fail to make arrangements for someone (keyholder) to respond to the scene of the alarm activation in 30 minutes without unreasonable delay. Did you know that? It is another one of those little liability laws in our alarm code. I’ll make it easy for you, if you want to read it, download a copy at:
Read P.C.C. 10-69 subsection E.5 and subsection K. It could come back to bite you.
The Phoenix code also says it is illegal for the subscriber if they fail to respond or make arrangements for someone to respond ( P.C.C. 10-70 subsection D and F) I don’t routinely go out and arrest people for this, but I will and I have used it against problem subscribers especially with “verified” priority dispatch alarms where the RP rolls over in bed to go back to sleep after he tells the CMS to dispatch PD on a “crime in progress” and then call him back to wake him up if PD finds something missing. Do you think I am kidding? And yes, I have arrested property owners and sent them to see the judge because of this kind of stupidity. You do not push the crime in progress button and expect to get away with this behavior.
Most of the time on standard alarm activations the RP response law is basically used as a liability push from the Phoenix Police Department back onto the CMS, the alarm company and the subscriber. If your CMS does not send a key-holder or you contact an RP who does not respond to show us where the crime occurred, then that blood is on you’alls hands not ours. We had a similar notice of claim filed from a check cashing business in a strip mall that had their safe with well over $100K inside stolen in the middle of the night. The CMS called, PD responded to the check cashing business, no RP ever came out. The officers found no obvious evidence of criminal activity from their vantage point walking around the strip mall so they wrote it up as a false alarm. When the employees of the check cashing business showed up at 7am they found their safe was missing and they had a large hole that was a little bigger than their safe in the internal wall between their business and the business next door. They tried to sue the city and I ran thru the same drill before the city attorney sent them packing without any $$ settlement. I told the city attorney I wanted to arrest the RP/owner of the check cashing business for failure to respond... He advised it would not look good in front of a jury because I would be adding insult to injury by arresting the owner / RP. Darn lawyers always take away all of my fun…
So, Steve, I did not forget about you.
I hope you have been paying attention as you are reading this, no hard feelings, but PLEASE consider the larger picture of what you are complaining about. The city of Palatka did not just spring this on you. Take a look at the code:
The alarm coordinator shall provide notice of alarm registration renewal notices no less than 45 days prior to the expiration of the alarm registration. What else do you want Palatka to do?? Who do you think dropped the ball on this??
You indicated “they do not put a date of expiration on their permits.”
Take a look at the code:
Alarm systems shall be registered on an annual basis by the alarm user, to ensure that the alarm user certifies that the registration information maintained in the city's records is correct. The registration shall be effective for the period of one year (12 months), beginning with original registration date.
That pretty much means that the expiration date is in essence printed on the permit in the form of an issue date that is good for one year don’t you think? Do you need me to spell that out?
Phoenix does not put the expiration date on the permit either because the permit is good for as long as it is renewed (every year). It only has an issue date and stays in effect until it is cancelled, but the permit becomes “unlawful” status in our permit system if it is not renewed.
Let’s look at your statement: “so they can fine them $100 when they have an alarm and their permit has expired.”
Take a look at the code:
Any person operating [this includes you Steve because you are considered to be “operating” thru the CMS that calls PD for dispatch] an unregistered alarm system will be subject to fine for each false alarm in addition to any other fines. The alarm administrator may waive the additional non-registration fine if the alarm user submits an application for alarm registration within ten days of the notification of such violation.
Steve, you got the notice because the system had a false alarm after the permit had expired, so deal with it. Did you see where the $100.00 penalty fee for both your business and the subscriber is waived if you or the subscriber pays the 25.00 permit fee within 10 days after you got your $100.00 penalty fee notice? Maybe you should pay the permit fee and then collect an extra $25.00 from your subscriber if your contract has any teeth in it. Right Ken??
Do you have any idea how hard it is to keep a city alarm permit database up to date with over 150,000+ permits when people move in or out and never tell PD to cancel their alarm permit, especially when the new homeowner or realtor is tripping the alarm that your customer left behind with the user codes? Add to that all of the portable DIY that is available to the consumers when the experts are predicting a 5%-8% increase in the market penetration. Does anybody remember who said: what is worse than a runaway false alarm?? A false alarm that is running around all over the city. All LE wants to know is who is responsible for operating the alarm system, not to empty the RMR out of your pocket. And the city is probably not breaking even on the expense of the dispatch costs. Your $100.oo in the scope of a million dollar city budget is not “a rip-off way of making $200” as you put it. It is a motivational tool because if it does not cost someone $$, people don’t frankly give a darn. It sure got your attention didn’t it??? I guess it works!
Steve, do you see where I am going with this, and others like Steve that are hiding on the sidelines watching? I commend Steve for at least sticking his neck out! I’m sure that the rest of you are learning something like Steve today as you read this.
Ken, to be frank, I was a little shocked at the tone of your response to Steve which surprised me because you completely went in a direction that feeds this frenzy. You even missed the opportunity that you had to promote your business of selling excellent contract services by focusing on the liability issue that Steve needs help understanding and instead you took the opportunity to take a cheap shot at the hard work your bread and butter clients in the security industry have done to keep the peace between your clients and the Law Enforcement community, and that I assure you is no load of bull, to use your words. We are still friends right?? I hope so.
All that the LE agencies and municipalities who have enacted an alarm ordinance are trying to accomplish is to reduce false alarm dispatches and keep the permit records current. Many organizations from the security industry like SIAC, CSAA, PPVAR, SIA, ESA, FARA, AzAA (sorry if I left someone out) are working hard in partnership with the LE community like me to make positive changes in order to prevent LE from getting so frustrated that they basically tell you and your customers to take a hike. How do you think that would affect your RMR retirement strategy if the LE in your jurisdiction did that instead of passing that money grabbing nasty alarm ordinance as you put it? Alarm codes are not written or created out of ignorance in a vacuum, they are well drafted documents based on model code templates where the security industry organizations like SIAC or FARA wrote 90% or more of the material trying to help city attorneys from LE or city councils figure out what is the best way to deal with the big bad wolfs that live in the community while still allowing LE heroes to partner with the security industry heroes (pick your favorite, Three Little Pigs, Little Red Riding Hood or Mary had a little lamb, my favorite is the Seven Dwarfs because I can pick which one I want to be today) to provide reasonable peace and security for the majority of the vulnerable cute little lambs living out in the community that do not have a clue about what it takes to keep them safe.
Ok, time to stop laughing, because the bottom line is that you had better learn to use the AHJ rules, industry standards or best practices that were created by the cumulative knowledge of experts and Einsteins for your advantage in order to sell and install quality security systems, not stand up on your own merits to buck the system or the civil litigation lawyers and expert forensic witnesses specializing in the security field may shorten your career in the security business for you and take away whatever RMR that you had managed to store in the bank.
Ken, I think I said enough… Sorry it is another long essay; I sure hope you can print the notice of claim for them to see.
Detective H.W."Robbie" Robinson #5002
Phoenix Police Code Enforcement Unit Alarm Inspections
First of all the alarm companies in Phoenix owe me plenty because if nothing else we are keeping Robbie too busy to police alarm companies and their subscribers. But he is obviously passonate with his work and makes great points, most of the time.
The alarm industry has historically opposed any responsibility for obtaining alarm permits for its subscribers, and certainly takes no responsibility for seeing to it that subscribers maintain their permits and pay their fees. Alarm companies should be required to provide permit applications to their subscribers, but it should be the subscriber's responsibility to pay for the permit and file the permit application, as well as affix the permit to the alarm panel if that is an AHJ requirement.
Consumer laws that require the contractor to obtain permits before beginning construction work are common. But installing an alarm system isn't the same as demolishing a structure or building a house which requires building permits and code compliance. We do see this in the context or commercial fire alarm where the AHJ requires the system and requires advance plans, approval and inspection, and of course fees. I can't help but think of the analogy that a car dealer is not responsible to ensure that the buyer of the car has a driver's license. On the other hand a seller of guns [in some jurisdictions anyway] has to ensure that the buyer has a license. But even those jurisdictions don't require the gun seller to obtain the license. Perhaps not a fair analogy.
Det Robinson would do well to remember that not all jurisdictions are created equally, and not all have laws on the books for the same reason. While Phoenix may have alarm laws and an alarm division that accomplishes worthwhile purposes, many jurisdictions create laws for the wrong reasons and these ill conceived laws sometimes don't even try and disguise their real purpose, to raise revenue. In my home town the county installed speed cameras in school zones and after public uproar had to rip them out within 2 months. All the county talked about was how much money it would make. Slowing cars down to 15 mph in areas where there had never been an accident was admittedly an excuse, not justification, for the legislation.
Insurance companies rarely hinge coverage on AHJ compliance. While a carrier will want to know that an alarm company is properly licensed and operates in customary ways before agreeing to insure that business, claims coverage will not ordinarily depend on compliance, especially when we are talking about permits and registration fees.
Phoenix apparently has meaningful laws that cover alarm registration and dispatch details and information. These laws enhance law enforcement efforts, and with professionals like Det Robinson focused on enforcement, these laws have made a difference permitting law enforcement to better do their job and adding value to professionally installed and monitored alarm systems in Phoenix. If you do business in Phoenix then you need to take the alarm permit laws seriously, and you should, because the police take them seriously. So, Det Robinson, you make your case for Phoenix. Other jurisdictions need to make their own case.
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