College trio makes alarming discovery
By Thor Jourgensen
The Daily Item of Lynn
Wednesday, December 13, 2006
LYNN -- Poorly trained or careless employees and improperly set security alarms cost the Police Department $17,200 in on-the-job time spent responding to false alarms.
Three Gordon College students calculated that cost to the city and taxpayers after reviewing 500 alarm calls selected randomly from 5,000 logged between Nov. 1, 2005 to Sept. 30, 2006.
The trio found that 443, or 86 percent, of the alarms were false. The other 57 alarms alerted police to building break-ins.
Danae Perkins, Ryan Berger and Patrick Kelley identified an Essex Street market and St. Mary's High School as the biggest sources of false alarms in the city. Plaza Cibaena, St. Mary's and 13 other locations mostly located downtown were responsible for 553 alarms over 11 months. Nine out of 10 of the alarms at the 15 locations were false.
Improperly set motion sensors and employees or residents who use incorrect alarm passwords typically trigger false alarms. But police do not know the alarm is false until they respond to a location. The Gordon students calculated police spent 634 hours in 2005 and 2006 responding to false alarms after building owners or alarm companies failed to reset or turn off an alarm.
"It's carelessness a lot of times," Chief John Suslak said.
The students calculated the number of hours officers spend responding to false alarms and came up with the cost to the city by factoring in hourly wage figures for officers.
Gordon math professor Michael Veatch's students suggested Lynn follow Stoneham's example and fine building owners who log three or more false alarms in one year.
Stoneham's fines start at $25 and escalate to several hundred dollars.
According to the study, the top false alarm locations are Plaza Cibaena, 268 Essex St.; St. Mary's High School, 35 Tremont St.; Comcast Cable, 26 Tremont St.; Shopping plaza, 181 Union St.; Office building, 156 Broad St.
(A special thank you to the Daily Item and Mr. Jourgensen for permission to post this article.)