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LAPD to Delay New Policy on Alarms

November 01, 2003|Patrick McGreevy | Times Staff Writer

The Los Angeles Police Department agreed Friday to delay a controversial new policy reducing the response to burglar alarms after City Council members said the department has not adequately studied the policy's impact, clarified new procedures and notified the public.

"I think this new policy is a trick," said Councilman Jack Weiss in a reference to Halloween. "It's a train wreck that we are trying to prevent."

The new policy, adopted by the Police Commission earlier this week, would have taken effect today.

It would have had police stop automatically responding to unverified burglar alarms at locations with more than two false calls in the previous year.

Police Commission Executive Director Dan Koenig, however, told the City Council on Friday that the new policy would not be acted on by officers until council members have a chance to meet on concerns about the change.

Noting that the city is considering asking voters to approve a tax increase for more police officers, Weiss questioned how that would be justified if officers would still be responding to thousands of false alarms under the policy.

Weiss and Councilwoman Cindy Miscikowski have opposed responding to unverified alarms. But given that the policy has been approved, they want to make sure that it's feasible.

They joined council President Alex Padilla in introducing a motion to have the council take jurisdiction over the policy from the Police Commission. The council scheduled a meeting for Tuesday to take up the motion and hear council members' concerns.

Because 90% of the unverified burglar alarms last year were false alarms, Police Chief William J. Bratton had urged the Police Commission to adopt a policy that would no longer have officers respond to alarms unless the property owner is able to first verify through cameras or on-site inspection that there has been a break-in.

When residents and the council objected, the commission decided instead to have officers stop automatically responding to unverified alarms in cases in which a property has had two false alarms in the previous 12 months.

In cases in which there have been two false alarms and a break-in is not verified, the call would be broadcast over a police radio and officers could voluntarily respond as they were available.

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