How Does the Police Response Work?

Your motion sensors, door/window sensors, and other security system components 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 alarm 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 30 to 60 seconds before notifying the alarm company of an intrusion, giving you time to disarm the system if you accidentally tripped it. Read more about security system response times.

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 or account holder, 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. If your municipality requires an alarm permit, the police may also try to contact you to confirm the alarm.

Bell
RapidSOS

If you subscribe to Cove or SimpliSafe, you also benefit from a data transfer system called RapidSOS. Critical information like your address, lockbox code, medical history, or even the number of pets in your home is shared with first responders to ensure fast, accurate assistance. 

DIY vs. professional monitoring

The police response feature is usually only available with home security systems that are monitored by professional monitoring centers. Self-monitored security systems and smart 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 a sensor malfunctioning, a pet triggering an alarm, or even a poorly latched screen door blowing open on a windy day. 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, some security companies like SimpliSafe and ADT 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.

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. Learn more about choosing a home security system, or check out our recommended home security providers.

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Cathy Habas
Written by
Cathy Habas
With over seven years of experience as a content writer, Cathy has a knack for untangling complex information. Her natural curiosity and ability to empathize help Cathy offer insightful, friendly advice. She believes in empowering readers who may not feel confident about a purchase, project, or topic. Cathy earned her Bachelor of Arts degree in English from Indiana University Southeast and began her professional writing career immediately after graduation. She has contributed to sites like Safety.com, Reviews.com, Hunker, and Thumbtack. Cathy’s pride and joy is her Appaloosa “Chacos.” She also likes to crochet while watching stand-up comedy specials on Netflix.

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