"There are certain alarms we will continue to respond to such as a bank alarms, hold up alarms and panic alarms," Capt. Justin Martinez said. "These alarms, for them to be initiated, you have to enter a code or secret button. It usually has to be manually manipulated. Typically that's a verified response. We know somebody did something, and we'll continue to respond to those ones."
Last year, the Sheriff's Office responded to 1,076 alarms, 98 percent of which were false alarms, equating to 335 hours of deputy time.
"The deputy gets on scene and we have to walk around the entire perimeter of the house looking for open windows, open doors or something that looks as if someone had broken into the residence," he said. " the time we walk around the entire home looking for signs of entry, don't find anything and clear the home, that many hours have been spent. It's very time consuming."
Often, when alarms have been verified, deputies have responded to the residences where the alarms have thwarted the crimes.
"For example, someone may have broken a door or window, the audible alarm goes off just like a car alarm and scares the perpetrator away," he said.
Martinez said that although the Sheriff's Office likes to provide service to the community, alarm companies have essentially entered law enforcement into a contract to respond for services.
"They are private companies selling alarm systems, and then saying that when the alarms come in, they will summon the police to their residences," he said. "That is really entering us into a contract that we didn't agree to. If somebody sells an alarm system, they should be responsible for responding to that alarm."
By forcing the alarm companies to respond to the alarms first, and then calling the Sheriff's Office if a crime is verified, the Sheriff's Office hopes to avoid responding to false alarms.
"We anticipate that it will save deputies time and manpower, and then we can allocate those positions back onto the road," he said.
Sheriff Dave Edmunds said he made the decision to switch to verified response because he hasn't been given additional resources by the county.
"I've had to start peeling back services," he said. "Something had to give. That's why we had to get rid of the inmate working program, and why we went to verified response."
Edmunds said he would prefer to respond to all alarms, but the Sheriff's Office lacks the staffing.
"This was strictly an economic decision," he said. "Over the course of the last five years, I have not received additional full-time employees to contend with the increase in calls for service I have had. So I had to start eliminating some of the services we provide. I simply don't have the personnel to do it anymore."
South Salt Lake, West Valley and Salt Lake County have also implemented verified response.
"Like other law enforcement agencies that are cash-strapped, we are having to eliminate some of the services we have been able to provide in the past," he said. "This is congruent with a lot of the policies that other law enforcement agencies have, not only in Utah, but throughout the country."
Edmunds said he is hoping the Summit County Council will provide the resources his department needs in the future.
"We're going to have to continue to decrease other services I'd like to provide if I don't get the money I need," he said.