Verified Alarm Response Program

On January 1, 2020, the Waterloo Regional Police Service adopted a Verified Alarm Response Program (VARP) to improve service delivery to residents and business owners of Waterloo Region.

It is anticipated that VARP will have a significant impact on reducing the number of false alarms that Waterloo Regional Police respond to, thereby increasing the capacity for officers and 9-1-1 personnel to respond to emergencies.

Officers will now be dispatched when an alarm is verified (i.e. when there is proof of criminal activity or an emergency) through one or more of the following:

  • Audio device
  • Video device
  • Multiple zone activations
  • An eyewitness on scene

As part of the new program, alarm monitoring stations or any party calling the police to report an alarm will be required to confirm whether police response is necessary.

The Waterloo Regional Police Service will continue to respond to hold-up, panic, or duress alarms, and will not require verification in such circumstances.

As part of the new program, there is no other annual fee, however a flat fee of $170 will be applied for false alarms.

This program is the result of a review on how the WRPS can improve its delivery of service, the efficiency and effectiveness of the deployment of officers, and increase the safety and wellness of our community.

 

Statistics

In 2018, WRPS received 5,060 alarm calls. Only three per cent of these were deemed to be legitimate emergencies. Ninety-seven per cent of these calls were cancelled or deemed to be false alarms.

For information on how to avoid false alarms, please visit our website at: https://www.wrps.on.ca/en/services-reporting/alarms-faq.aspx

Frequently Asked Questions

What is a verified response?

A verified response means that there must be some form of verification of an emergency or that a crime has been committed or is in progress before police are dispatched.

If a panic, hold-up, or duress alarm is received, officers will be immediately dispatched. Verification for these types of alarms is not required.

How is an alarm activation verified?

Officers will be dispatched when an alarm is verified (i.e. when there is proof of criminal activity or an emergency) through one or more of the following:

  • Audio device
  • Video device
  • Multiple zone activations
  • An eyewitness on scene

Why is the WRPS implementing this program?

This program has been implemented in an attempt to eliminate false alarms across Waterloo Region.

Will you still respond to panic alarms?

Yes, the WRPS will provide immediate response to any panic, hold-up, or duress alarms it receives. Verification of a panic, hold-up, or duress alarm is not required in such circumstances.

Has verified response been implemented in other jurisdictions?

Yes, several law enforcement services across North America, including in Ontario, have successfully implemented a verified response protocol.

When will the verified response program take effect?

The verified response prgram began January 1, 2020.

What will the fee be for a false alarm under the verified response program?

A flat fee of $170 will be applied for false alarms

Will I be able to continue to register my alarm with the Waterloo Regional Police Service.

No.  Alarm registration ended on December 31, 2019.

I paid to register my alarm until March 31, 2020.  Will I be getting a refund on my registration fee for the period of January 1, 2020 to March 31, 2020.

No.  Premises that were registered for the period April 1, 2019 to March 31, 2020 will transition into the new fee structure on April 1, 2020.  Until April 1, 2020 fees for false alarms for registered premises remain as follows:

$100 for first attendance, plus escalating fee of $25 for each additional attendance within 365 days

As a client of an alarm company, what should I do now?

You should contact your alarm company to discuss these changes and learn more about their current services, alarm settings, and response options.

I received a bill for a false alarm and I do not agree with the charge?

If an alarm company or the alarm customer wishes to have the Police reconsider the classification of the alarm call as a "False Alarm" (e.g., there was evidence of criminal activity or an emergency), you may seek a Request for Reconsideration by submitting an email to alarms@wprs.on.ca stating the reason for the reconsideration.

Appeal Process

If an applicant disagrees with the Request for Reconsideration decision, you may appeal, in writing, within twenty-five (25) calendar days of the date of the decision letter.

The appeal letter must state why the Waterloo Regional Police Service should reconsider its decision and be accompanied by a $30 appeal fee, payable by cash or certified cheque (refundable upon successful appeal).

The appellant must submit (to the address set out below) the following package as part of their appeal:  (i) an appeal letter setting out the grounds for appeal; (ii) the fee; (iii) a copy of the Request for Reconsideration decision letter along with any documents sent in with the request; and (iv) any additional information to support the appeal.

Attention: Records Manager
Waterloo Regional Police Service
P.O. Box 3070
200 Maple Grove Road
Cambridge, Ontario N3H 5M1

Within 60 calendar days of receipt of an appeal notification, the Waterloo Regional Police Service will convene the False Alarm Appeal Panel (consisting of, at least two members; one of which must be a uniform Commander from Support Services) to consider the appeal.

After the decision of the Appeal Panel is made, a letter will be sent to the Alarm Business, if applicable, advising of the final decision.  If the appeal is allowed, the Alarm Coordinator will be instructed to reverse the False Alarm fee charge and reduce the False Alarm Count for the premises by one.  The appeal fee will be refunded in full.

Pending final determination of the appeal, any non-registration of the Alarm Business for non-payment regarding the matter under appeal will be held in abeyance.

EXTENSION OF TIMELINES
If, in extenuating circumstances, the Waterloo Regional Police Service can not meet the timelines indicated in this process, the applicant will be notified of the applicable extensions.

For more information or assistance, email alarms@wrps.on.ca.

 

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