Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Security Alarm Possibilities

This email was sent to MPD and we are posting here for community input and advice:

As a new resident of Logan Circle (which we love), I have installed a central station monitored alarm system in my condo. Primarily I am concerned about protecting my family while we are home (and more so while I am out of town), but I am also interested in protecting our belongings.

My question to the Group is, what would happen if the alarm were tripped and MPD is dispatched? Do officers have some way of accessing the building through our vestibule door security box?

Perhaps more importantly, what happens if a "panic" alarm is triggered - for instance my wife is home alone - do MPD officers have a mechanism by which they can enter the building?
We do NOT have a 24/7desk, it is only attended 9-5, M-F.

Thanks in advance,
- Name witheld


Brian Vargas said...

I'm rather curious about this as well. We had a (thankfully) false alarm a couple weeks back. We talked to Lt. Smith on our way home, and he told us that everything was okay there. When we got home, the alarm was no longer blaring, although it did still register that it had been tripped.

Did the police contact the monitoring station and have them deactivate the alarm, or does it eventually time out? Since they didn't enter the unit, they wouldn't have had access to the alaram panel.

And while our particular unit has a street entrance, the other units in the building are behind a secured entrance. If someone else in our building called, would the police be stuck buzzing at the front door?

Anonymous said...

We live in a complex that has no front dest at all. So when the manager in not here or not in his office there is no one to respond to the door bell. That being said, our cat tripped our motion detector several times (the first time we went out of town after the installation).

I am told by the neighbors that the police showed up at my front door every time. This indicates to me that they have an access code that they input into our system to gain entry to the building (some of the calls were at night).

I am not sure if it was the alarm company or if the system itself did it but it re-set itself every time.

I am on an ADT system ... If I were in your shoes, I would contact the police department to make sure they have an emergency access code to each of your buildings.


Lewis said...

The building, in its infinite wisdom, deleted all access codes so the only way residents (and presumably the police) can get in is our access badges.

I would have to imagine that there is some solution for this - particularly in the days before electronic access systems and 24x7 desks, what would happen if an apartment dweller called 911 but couldn't open his or her door?

Sgt. Emerman said...

For the most part, we do not have access to a building without a desk manager or an access code. There are certain alarm companies that will provide us with a monthly access code that is updated on the first of the month. If the officer does not know the code, the alarm company will not allow them entry. That being said, if we can not get into a building, the alarm company is contacted by the MPD Dispatcher to call a key holder or any contact that is listed to give us access. If none is found, the officers will do a perimeter check of the building, looking for broken windows or other forced entry. If there is neither, the property is declared secured from ground level, and the officer can check back on the property later in the day. Some people have given their alarm companies the access code for the building, so when they contact the MPD to respond, they give us that code so that we can get up to the unit. If not, there is nothing more that we can do. Hope that this helps.

Lewis said...

sgt. emerman,

thank you for your response. it is very helpful. i completely understand that the number of false alarms makes it impractical for MPD to investigage every alarm signal as if it were a matter of national security!

however, is there any difference in response if the signal is reported to MPD as a "panic alarm" versus a door break, for instance?

or if there were a bona fide medical emergency, how would EMS gain access - would they break the front door at that point?

thanks again,

Sgt. Emerman said...

As for the difference in alarm calls that we get, alot depends upon the information that is provided by the alarm company. If your alarm activates, the alarm company will usually attempt to call you first, before notifying the police. If it is a panic alarm, and they get no answer, that is something that the call taker and dispatcher take into concern when assigning a priority level to the call. As for the EMS/FIRE response, if there is indeed an emergency that requires entry, they will figure out a way in. If that involves breaking in, they will do it. If you look at the front entrance of your building, there is often a small black box on the wall with a red reflective tape on it that has a key hole in it. Inside of that key box is a key to the main door that can be accessed by the EMS/Fire personnel. Take a look next time you are out.