12/21/2014

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Investigations

Home alarm system sparks debate of BPD response times

Home alarm system sparks debate of BPD response times
BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KBAK/KBFX) — Home alarm systems are a popular way to protect your family and possessions, but one local woman feels they are useless.

Sandra Winn, a wife and mother with two young boys, said she is not happy with how long it took the Bakersfield Police Department to respond when her home’s alarm went off.

Winn said Monday it took the officer one hour to show up to her home from when the call was made. It was determined the opened door was a false alarm, but Winn said from the amount of time it took them to get there, her entire home could have been burglarized.

"If I could have gotten back to my house, if I could have left work, then I wouldn't have called the police, but I couldn't," said Winn. "What if I was home with my kids? It still would have taken the cop long enough to come, because it's not important to them. It's not a priority."

Sgt. Joe Grubbs said Winn’s call is a priority-two call. The department categorizes calls into rankings, organizing them as priority one through five. Priority-one calls include life or death situations. Priority two covers a larger range of nonviolent calls.

"We responded to almost 112,000 priority-two calls last year. That equates to roughly a little bit over 300 calls a day of just priority two calls," said Grubbs. “Hopefully (after hearing the home alarm) there are neighbors in the area that call in saying, 'Hey, this alarm is going off. And I see somebody going into the house.' That right there takes (the call) from a priority-two call up to a priority-one call."

Police said there are many variables that affect how fast it takes an officer to show up.

"Time of day is a big one, call volume is a big one, how many resources we have available,” said Grubbs. “We need to save people's lives. That's what we're here for."

Winn said nothing was stolen from the home, and it was a false alarm, but she is still upset and feels the police department should take home alarms more seriously.

"My husband's car has been broken into three times since we moved here, so for them to say it's a false alarm, yes, OK, it's a false alarm, but they weren't here. They don't know that," she said.

False alarm calls out to BPD can actually cost you money. After the second false alarm, the department will charge a fine of $105, which goes up each time an officer is sent out.

They say to avoid it, make sure everyone in your home is properly trained on how to use the alarm system and to make sure the system is regularly maintained.
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