How Does the Police Response Work?

Your motion detectors and door/window sensors are activated, and your control panel is at the ready. If someone were to break into your home, your alarm would sound—but who would respond if you weren’t home or couldn’t answer?

This is where the police response feature comes into play. When your alarm is triggered, it will notify your monitoring company so that a representative can alert authorities to check out the issue.

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The Security System Reporting Process

Many monitored home security systems include a police response feature. Your home security system won’t directly contact the police any time a sensor triggers. The process is a bit more complex than that.

First, the triggered sensor will alert your alarm control panel. Usually, the control panel will wait between thirty and sixty seconds before sending a notification to the alarm company, giving you time to disarm the system if you accidentally tripped it.

When the monitoring center receives an alert, an operator will respond based on the company’s protocol. Some companies will first contact the residence to confirm there’s an emergency and check if any other sensors were triggered. If the monitoring representative can’t connect with the home, they will then notify the police department. Other companies don’t wait to contact the authorities—representatives will simultaneously alert the residence and the police.

From there, a police officer will check on the property. Depending on the department’s protocols, alarm circumstances, and call volume, the dispatched unit may drive by or investigate your home and property to address the reason for the alarm.

DIY vs. Professional Systems

The police response feature is usually only available with home security systems that are monitored by professional monitoring centers. DIY systems and home automation hubs don’t connect with a monitoring call center, which is the party that usually notifies the police. With a self-monitored system, you’ll receive an alert directly from your security system, meaning you’ll have to call the police yourself.

False vs. Verified Alarms

There’s always a chance of a false alarm, either due to sensor malfunction or accidental alarm triggering. False alarms can waste precious resources for emergency responders—when police have to check in on a false alarm, they’re not available to handle real emergencies. As a result, some municipalities will fine homeowners who have multiple false alarms within a given period.

In order to reduce instances of unnecessary police dispatch, many security companies use audio and video technology to verify if a break-in is in progress or if it was a false alarm. This ensures police have the most accurate information.

There are also a few things you can do to reduce the chance of a false alarm. Keep your system well-maintained, replace any batteries or sensors that are malfunctioning, and make sure everyone in your household knows how to activate and deactivate the alarm and access the control panel. Keep motion detectors away from windows, fireplaces, and air vents, and use a strong adhesive when installing door and window sensors. You may also be able to reduce the chances of a break-in by following home safety best practices.

If you want a police response feature for your home security, opt for a professionally monitored system. We’ve outlined the Best Home Security Systems, so check those out before picking a provider.

Compare the best home security systems

Best for
Brand
Lowest monitoring price
Starter equipment price
Contract required
Installation
Smart home compatibilityIcon Tooltip  Dark
Learn more
Read review
Best overall
VivintVivint
$599.00
Icon Yes  LightNo *
ProAmazon, Google,
Z-Wave
Reader favorite
SimpliSafeSimpliSafe
$229.00
Icon Yes  LightNo
DIYAmazon, Google
Whole-property
FrontpointFrontpoint
$99.00
Icon Yes  LightNo
DIYAmazon, Google,
Z-Wave
Pro monitoring
ADTADT
$0.00
Icon No  LightYes
ProAmazon, Google,
Z-Wave
Customer-focused
CoveCove
Quote required
Icon Yes  LightNo *
DIYAmazon,
Google

Info current as of 04/12/21. Offers and availability may vary by location and are subject to change.
*$0 due up-front with consumer financing.
†No-contract options available with outright equipment purchase.
‡Landline monitoring only. Some restrictions apply. (Full disclaimer)
**With $99 installation charge and new monitoring agreement. Early termination fee applies. See full disclaimer for full offer details, terms, and conditions.

Celeste Tholen
Written by
Celeste Tholen
Celeste has dedicated her decade-long career to reporting and reviews that help people make well-informed decisions. She oversees editorial strategy and production for SafeWise, with a goal to help people find the information they need to make their homes and lives safer. Prior to SafeWise, she worked as an editor and reporter for KSL and Deseret News. She continues to report on local news as a volunteer with the community paper. For the last six years, she’s led a Girl Scout troop, teaching girls about safety and preparing for whatever life throws their way.

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