Something to consider before offering 'Duplicate Signal Suppression'
December 28, 2011

Unless otherwise instructed by a Subscriber, COPS Monitoring's standard operating procedure (SOP) is to call the premises to verify every single high-priority alarm - even if we receive multiple signals. We do this because we take your Subscribers' security very seriously. We believe that your Subscribers' security can be compromised when employing techniques like Duplicate Signal Suppression (where Customers are spared multiple verification telephone calls when duplicate signals are received). While Duplicate Signal Suppression is an option available to your Subscribers, before you recommend it - perhaps you should consider the events below that were shared with us by attorneys KIRSCHENBAUM & KIRSCHENBAUM, P.C.:

According to a news article, a civil jury in DeKalb County, Georgia, a 64 year old woman who was raped in her home was awarded $9 million against the central station monitoring company. The subscriber paid $30 a month for burglar alarm monitoring. She left her home in the morning and when she returned later that evening, the burglar [who was arrested and convicted] was waiting for her and raped her. The central station records revealed that the central received a burg alarm at 10:27 AM. The operator called the house and the subscriber's sister, didn't get them, and called the police. The police responded, checked the perimeter of the house and saw no evidence of a break in; they left. Apparently, the alarm went off a few more times [attributable to interior motion sensors] and the central placed the system on hold. The central station also reached the subscriber's sister during the day to report the alarm. The subscriber returned home at 7:26 PM, entered through her garage and heard the alarm. The central called but did not tell the subscriber that it was the eighth alarm of the day.

Reportedly, there was testimony at the trial that the central station's protocol was to advise subscribers not to enter a home alone after an alarm condition. Also, the subscriber noticed her bed was wrinkled and there was a bottle of liquor on the floor in her bedroom. She stayed in the house about 20 minutes before she was attacked. The attacker took her in a car to an ATM machine, drove her around town, at one point told her she could get out of the car, also telling her that others outside the car were with him and would hurt her if she did leave the car. He took her home, raped her, passed out drunk and subscriber left the house and called police from a neighbor's house. According to the news article, the central station's attorney [hired by the insurance company] said he needed a trial to establish legal issues. He also said the jury did not find gross negligence. There is no mention in the news article whether there was an alarm contract, and I don't know if there is any history to the case pretrial, such as motions for summary judgment to dismiss based on contract protective provisions. Georgia does not permit a jury waiver clause in the contract [jury can be waived but not in the contract].

This tragic event painfully illustrates why our SOP is to call and verify every single high-priority alarm signal and why you should inform your Subscribers of the potential dangers of choosing Duplicate Signal Suppression. (In the example above, unless Duplicate Signal Suppression was elected by the Subscriber, COPS would have treated each of the eight alarm signals as a new alarm and followed the default instructions on the account. For burglary signals, common instructions are to call to verify, dispatch police if necessary, and notify the call list.)

From KIRSCHENBAUM & KIRSCHENBAUM, P.C's website: Founded in 1977, KIRSCHENBAUM & KIRSCHENBAUM, P.C., is one of Long Island's most prominent and well-respected mid-size general practice law firms. The firm continues its tradition of providing clients with legal advice and services of the highest quality and maintaining and fostering diversity in its practice. From representing a wide variety of large and small clients in many different industries, our attorneys have the hands-on experience and knowledge needed to handle almost any types of legal matters, whether litigious or transactional in nature. Click here to visit KIRSCHENBAUM & KIRSCHENBAUM, P.C.'s website.

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