HOME – the place in which one’s domestic affections are centered.
The idea is for this place to be secure, isn’t it? And when we partner with a security company, we believe it’s because they make home more secure. Or we wouldn’t be giving them our hard earned money, would we?
So the question is, do alarms, and alarm monitoring companies, actually make home more secure?
Feeling Secure v. Being Secure
SECURE – free from or not exposed to danger or harm.
OK, so no one or nothing can actually make you secure. So how about this question, do alarms decrease my exposure to danger or harm? Potentially.
You see, alarms don’t put a physical barrier between you and whomever it is that might want to do you harm.
Imagine, as you’ve seen in the movies, the home team is in and around the castle going about their daily routine. All of a sudden, two men on the wall see their enemy approaching. The younger says to his elder, “sir, there’s the enemy.” The senior officer shouts, “Sound the alarm!” Immediately, the people begin to run into the castle and prepare for battle.
QUESTION: Did the sounding of the alarm decrease their exposure to danger or harm?
Imagine now that the enemy is closer and prepares a battering ram for the castle doors. As they start the first of what they imagine will be many strikes against the door, they are all wildly caught off balance when the doors fly open after only one attempt.
The alarm did its job; perfectly in fact! And knowing they had an alarm (watchmen on the wall) might have made the villagers feel secure. But it was never meant to make them secure.
Defend v. Deter
I’m not anti-alarm. They have their place. But just like anything else, it needs to be properly labeled.
When you were a child, did you ever see chocolate powder in the cabinet and figure, why not get a spoonful? Then the moment it hit your taste buds, you learned that there was something called unsweetened chocolate. Yuck! If only you had read the label.
Alarms are not technically security products. Security is… “Ahhh, I’m safe from all harm.” No, alarms are deterrents.
From the yard sign to the sticker on the window or the door that states, “This house protected by such-and-such alarm company,” you are trying to deter the would-be crook. If your house is broken into and a loud piercing alarm goes off, you are trying to persuade the burglars to get out. And that’s a smart thing to do. Just as long as you understand:
Defense plus Deterrence and Detection equals security!
And if you have to choose, (which is not likely) choose defense.
Should I pay for monitoring?
OK, so you’ve gone here and you’ve hardened the weak points of your house. The best you know, you’ve taken care of defense. Now you want some deterrence and detection. But your not sure if a monthly fee is the way to go.
Well let’s look at your options:
In this setup, your alarm makes an ear-piercing noise. If you’re home, you know it could be false so you check the house as carefully as possible. If you’re not home, someone has to get there pretty quickly.
Here again we hear the alarm if we are home. This time, however, we reach for our smart device to see what our cameras have in view. We assess the situation much more quickly. If were are not home, the situation is much the same.
Alarm with camera and speakers
The difference here from the previous is that if we have someone attempting to violate our privacy, or god-forbid already has, we can actually speak directly to them and put the fear of God in them.
Alarm with monitoring
Here the alarm sounds, or is on silent mode, and alerts your monitoring company. They call you. If you give them the super-secret password, then all is well. If you don’t answer or are not home they call the police.
Now here comes the tricky part. Police departments have to prioritize the calls that come in to them. This keeps them from having to make constant decisions about what to handle first or last if “business is a booming.” Let’s look at the Poudre Emergency Communications Center in Colorado for an example of police call priorities:
Burglary in Progress: Priority 1. Suspect is seen or heard breaking into home, or business.
We like this right? If you’re home and hear a burglar or are away and see one through you camera, you call 911 and you are top priority.
Cold Burglary: Priority 3. Someone calls to report that they have found their house or business has been broken into.
In this situation, regardless of whether you have monitoring or not, you alarm goes off, you get home to find you have been burgled.
Burglary Alarm: Priority 5. Silent or audible alarm activated at a business or residence.
In this case, your monitoring company is alerted to your alarm. They notify your local police and if it’s a quiet night, they’ll be there shortly. If other things are going on in your county or precinct, such as…I don’t know, public drunkenness, maybe, it will be a little while.
Alcohol Contact: Priority 3. Generally an officer-initiated call. Can be someone calling to report a drunk in public, or contact by officer for an open container.
Your burglar alarm reported by your monitoring company has to take a back seat to this offense. But why?
Well over 90% of alarm triggered burglary reports are false. Some cities have reported the number as high as 98%. If first responders made burglary alarm calls priority, they might literally get nothing else done!
The question was, should I pay for monitoring?
So you see, monitoring may or may not be something that you want or feel you need. It’s different for different people.
I like alarm systems, but I don’t think I need monitoring at this time. However, if my grandmother was still alive and lived alone at home? You betcha!
An alarm system is not really total security (as often advertised) because it doesn’t do a good job in the defense department. However, it is effective, along with cameras and speakers, in the deterrent and detection areas.
Also, alarms seem to have a life of their own with a better-safe-than-sorry mantra. They go off even when there is no issue and therefore the police have to give that call a backseat to issues they know are actually happening; like public drunkenness.
I hope that gives you insight into what you can expect from a security alarm. And remember, being prepared means living without regret.
Well what do you think? Do you have an alarm? Do you have monitoring? How about a question or a different point of view? Let me know and let’s keep the conversation going.