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North Bay police adjusting intrusion alarms policy in June

The North Bay Police Service is joining an increasing number of Ontario police services in changing the way police respond to intrusion alarms.

Effective June 1, police will only respond to verified intrusion alarms.

Currently, officers respond to all intrusion alarms unless the property owner confirms it is a false alarm or cancels the police response prior to officers arriving.

Police say the response to an intrusion alarm requires a significant investment of time and resources.

Intrusion alarms require a minimum of two officers to respond. In most instances, responding officers do not have immediate access to the building and must wait for a key holder to grant access.

“We have to modernize the way we do policing and we need to strategically put our resources where they're needed the most,” said Insp. Jeff Warner.

“It does pull them away from other duties, pulls them away from proactive patrol and pulls them away from serious calls from service."

In 2022, the North Bay Police Service responded to 987 intrusion alarms. Of those, only 25 actually required a police response. Four of those responses resulted in criminal charges for crimes including break and enter and mischief.

Most false alarms were the result of a technical malfunction of the alarm system or an employee or resident entering the incorrect alarm code. Many alarms are cancelled while the police were en route to the location.

Going forward, police will only respond to intrusion alarms after the property owner or business has been able to verify that the alarm requires a police response.

Confirmation can be accomplished by the private alarm company or property owner receiving visual or audio confirmation from security cameras on-site or by an in-person check.

A number of police services across the province are moving toward this model of response in an effort to find more efficient ways of deploying police resources.

“Businesses should have plans in place to mitigate issues,” said Donna Backer, president of the North Bay and District Chamber of Commerce.


“Technical malfunctions happen over time so ensure your equipment needs to be functionality wise and that your business employees know what needs to be done if an incorrect alarm code is entered.”

Currently, North Bay police invoices property owners or businesses after police have responded to two false alarms at the same property.

Effective in June, if officers respond to one verified alarm that is determined to be a false alarm, response to any further alarms at the property will be suspended until the reinstatement fee is paid.

The reinstatement fee will increase to $250. This fee is designed to recover some of the costs associated with responding to false alarms.

"Because this is a new initiative, we're giving businesses and property owners’ time to beef up their security systems or put things in place that they will be able to verify an alarm,” Warner said.

In 2022, invoice payments accounted for less than three per cent of the total personnel cost incurred when responding to false alarms. 

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