AUGUSTA, Ga (WJBF)- Beginning August 16, the Richmond County Sheriff’s Office is implementing a new procedure called Verified Response. This means law enforcement will only respond to an activated alarm, home or business, if there is a video or an eyewitness to a break in.
Richmond County Deputies responded to more than 82,000 alarm calls in last 4 years and more than 98 percent of those were false alarms.
The Richmond County Sheriff’s Office said Verified Response will allow them to refocus resources where they are needed.
“And what we’re doing here, is we’re prioritizing people over property,” said Chief Patrick Clayton with the Richmond County Sheriff’s Office.
Augusta will join 40 other communities across the nation who use Verified Response. According to the sheriff’s office the program has proven to decrease law enforcement response to false alarms by nearly 99 percent.
“Responding to alarms is our number one call. And we ran over 82,000 of them. And we looked at that, of the 82,000 only one percent of them resulted in reports,” explained Chief Clayton.
Deputies will still always respond to certain types of businesses like pharmacies and banks every time an alarm is activated. They will also immediately respond to a panic alarm.
Sarah Boyett Bunjevac is the owner of Halo Salon and Spa. She said she has faith the Sheriff’s Office knows what they are doing.
“Well I’m very fortunate, I’ve been down here almost 17 years, and I’ve never had any issues with them not being appropriate at the time needed. So I have faith that this new system will be right,” Bunjevac said.
Mitchell Lofton is opening a new business on Broad Street. It makes him very nervous that police will no longer respond immediately to an alarm call.
“I’m not comfortable with that scenario where they’re not responding at all. I think the owners should be putting more on the alarm companies to ensure that these alarms are verified before they ask Richmond County to come out,” said Lofton.
Chief Clayton explained that panic alarms will not be part of Verified Response.
“Some people do have panic alarms at their homes. If they hit a panic alarm or a duress alarm, we’re coming with everything we got.”
Chief Clayton said he spoke to other agencies using Verified response and they have had no negative effects of the program.
Photojournalist: Will Baker.