Data Back Burglar Alarm Policy, Police Panel Says

Times Staff Writers

As the Los Angeles City Council prepares to debate a new Police Department policy that ended responses to unverified burglar alarms, LAPD officials released statistics Friday showing that the areas of the city with the greatest number of alarm calls have the least amount of violent crime.

In December, neighborhoods in West Los Angeles and the San Fernando Valley had 9,394 burglary alarm calls and 1,140 violent crimes, while the central and southern portions of the city had 4,501 alarm calls and 1,525 violent crimes, according to the Police Commission.

However, the figures also show that the western and northern areas of the city had 1,010 burglaries in December, compared with 638 in southern and central Los Angeles.

Although the statistics are for one month, Lt. Debra Kirk of the Police Commission's investigations division said they seem to indicate that police patrols are being diverted away from areas with violent crime to respond to alarm calls. The LAPD estimates that 15% of patrol time is spent responding to burglar alarms, 92% of which are false alarms.

The Police Commission approved a new policy in early January requiring an alarm company or property owner to verify a break-in before police respond to an alarm. But that move was met with protests from homeowners and security companies, and the City Council voted to review the policy.

The matter will be taken up by a council committee Monday morning, and could go to a council vote by the end of the week.

On Friday, Councilman Jack Weiss said he is joining fellow council member Cindy Miscikowski in supporting the new policy, citing the new figures as evidence that police resources need to be better managed.

"These statistics show that we have an epidemic of violent crime and we need to give our police the flexibility to respond to that," said Weiss, who represents portions of the Westside and the Valley. "The police believe they can better serve us by responding to fewer alarms and more violent crime and I think that's the right approach."

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