Cst. Neil Beitel says over the course of his 10-year career as a Canine Division Patrol Officer with the Regina Police Service, he’s responded to countless alarm calls – the majority of which turned out to be false for a variety of reasons.

“It’s cold outside, the doors a little bit ajar, the cat jumps out, something to that effect or the curtain sways in the wind,” Cst. Beitel said. “But generally not true alarm calls.”

When police respond to each of those calls, the minutes and hours spent clearing false alarms can add up.

“An alarm call could take anywhere from 20 minutes to an hour, depending on the time to where you are in the city to drive and arrive,” Cst. Beitel said. “When you arrive you check all the doors, the windows, everything else in the house, then you start making phone calls to the individual who owns the property.”

It’s thousands of calls like the ones Cst. Beitel describes in 2017 that lead to a policy change for the Regina Police Service called “Enhanced Call Verification”, which tightens the criteria to warrant a police response to certain alarm calls.

“In 2017, we had 4,050 alarm calls for service. Out of those 4,000, only 34 were real alarms. So that’s 99 per cent of the calls we got were false alarms,” said Elizabeth Nguyen, Communications Manager with Regina Police. “So we’re trying to eliminate police attendance to the majority of these alarm calls that are false alarms.”

Police say since the new policy was put into effect at the beginning of the year, there have been 18 alarm calls that previously would have needed police to attend, but under enhanced verification no longer requires a response.

“Some of the stuff that we will go to is if the alarm company has called a key holder or the homeowner, and the homeowner has said this is suspicious, go check it out, I’m not at home,” Nguyen said.

Police will also still respond to any alarm at a financial institution, liquor store or cannabis retailer.

Other factors include if there’s broken glass or video evidence of suspicious activity.

“Basically, if there’s anything indicating any suspicion at all we would go.”

Cst. Beitel says he’s well aware of the statistics on false alarms – and hopes enhanced verification will help keep those to a minimum.

“A lot of the times we would arrive, you’d check all the doors, it would be nothing,” Cst. Beitel said.

The overall goal of more verification is freeing up more police resources to respond to real calls instead of false alarms in years to come.