LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Police in Los Angeles have settled on a new way of handling those pesky burglar alarms that take up so much of their time. They will now ignore them -- unless someone can prove that there is a genuine emergency.
The change was approved by the Los Angeles police commissioners at the request of chief William Bratton, who said that 92 percent of the alarms are false -- wasting time and money in a city struggling with gang violence, a spike in violent crime and a shortage of officers.
The new policy allows officers to largely ignore alarms from automated systems that are not verified as genuine by a homeowner or security company -- calls which formerly required them to respond within an hour.
They would respond immediately to alarms triggered by a human being and within 15 minutes if the automated calls were verified as genuine.
Bratton, New York's former top cop who was named to the L.A. post in October, said the new policy would free his officers to deal with serious crime and that other cities had taken a similar approach with success.
But security companies have vowed to challenge the move, saying that burglars would be emboldened if they discovered that police would ignore alarms and that the costs of verifying automated calls with guards or video cameras were too great to be practical.