Greensboro Police Chief Brian James presented a plan at the annual City Council retreat on Thursday, March 24, to free up a tremendous amount of time for Greensboro police officers.

The plan is for the Greensboro Police Department (GPD) to stop responding to burglar alarm calls unless the company confirms that it is not a false alarm.

James keeps talking about doing more with less and he said this policy would free up a tremendous amount of time for patrol officers so they could be out doing real police work.

The data James presented is convincing.  In 2019, police responded to 13,427 burglar alarm calls and, of those, 0.7 percent, or 104, were actual burglaries.  In 2020, GPD responded to 10,978 alarm calls and 1.3 percent, or 153, were actual burglaries.

Out of those 10,978 calls in 2020, a total of five suspects were arrested and three of those were at schools.  Under the new policy, the GPD would continue to respond to alarm calls from schools and also respond to calls from 10 p.m. to 6 a.m.  James said that of the few calls that do turn out not to be false alarms, almost all are between 10 p.m. to 6 a.m.

James said that the alarm companies would be notified that they need to register their clients with the city in April with the effective date for implementation of the program in June.

He said that since video has become a part of alarm systems, it should not be difficult for the companies to determine if it is a real or a false alarm.

James noted an additional benefit to crime reduction in not responding to the thousands of false alarms.  He said that the people who live in high crime areas tend to not have alarms, which means responding to a burglar alarm call usually meant having an officer travel to a low crime area.  James said that on average it took an officer 30 to 45 minutes to clear a false alarm call.

James said, “I think it will improve our response times.  It’s almost like a force multiplier.”