Paradise Valley alarm system failure illustrates system update necessity

Paradise Valley Police Chief Peter Wingert looks on as members of Paradise Valley Town Council conduct their Jan. 14 regular meeting at Town Hall. (Independent Newsmedia/Terrance Thornton)

Paradise Valley Police Chief Peter Wingert looks on as members of Paradise Valley Town Council conduct their Jan. 14 regular meeting at Town Hall. (Independent Newsmedia/Terrance Thornton)

The Paradise Valley Police Department is moving forward with an overhaul of its existing alarm system.

The Town of Paradise Valley has been in the alarm business since 1984 but the hardware and infrastructure has become outdated and on this past New Years Eve the system failed, according to Paradise Valley Police Chief Peter Wingert.

The alarm system today is fully operational through emergency assistance from a private company, but the recent outage that spanned a seven-day period from Dec. 31, 2015 to Jan. 8 illustrates the necessity for repair to the antiquated system, Chief Wingert points out.

Paradise Valley homeowners have the option, for a cost ranging from $25 to $35, to have a hardline directly into the Paradise Valley Police Department’s dispatch center for when emergencies occur. If an alarm connected to the Paradise Valley alarm system is tripped, a call for service will ring directly into the department’s dispatch center, town officials say.

Paradise Valley Town Council Thursday Jan. 14 held a work session discussion on next steps the department is taking to create a hybrid alarm system previously discussed last October.

“We have infrastructure issues,” Chief Wingert said during the work session discussion. “On Dec. 31 we had to ask for emergency vendor assistance. We were unable to immediately solve that problem for our customers. We had volunteers and police officers do extra patrols.”

Chief Wingert has presented a 180-day solution to Paradise Valley Town Council to ensure the possibility of disruptions in service for alarm customers is a thing of the past.

“This was an embarrassment for me personally,” he told council echoing his comments last October where he alerted town leaders to the vulnerability of the alarm system.

“I wanted to get this avoided. You pay us to provide this service. I want to make sure we are not going to allow this to happen again. In the meantime, we have stopped the bleeding so to speak.”

According to Chief Wingert, there are 450 residential accounts within municipal borders and those accounts generated $220,000 in fees in fiscal year 2014-15.

The hybrid system envisioned by police officials contains the following characteristics:

  • Paradise Valley would outsource all equipment and software upgrades to an alarm company;
  • Paradise Valley would enter into a revenue-sharing agreement with that alarm business;
  • Paradise Valley would create a “pass through” system between the alarm business and the PVPD allowing current and future alarm program participants to send directly to the local dispatch center.

Chief Wingert anticipates coming back to town council in the next 30 days with both a request for qualification bid to be made public along with a request for proposal of service for the planned hybrid alarm system.

“There are a couple of reasons we have to do two processes,” he said. “I want to make sure we can get there from here. We need to have some kind of professional consultant to fully vet this idea. That RFQ process will be meld into an RFP process that will solve this problem.”

Paradise Valley Town Manager Kevin Burke pointed out that during this transitional period customers will see a change in the level of service and will likely receive a week’s credit due to the power outage of the town alarm service over the holidays.

“With this 180-day solution there will be a change in service,” he said. “It is not our ideal service level, we are looking for this to be an intermediate solution — we are trying to build some reliability into this.”

Mr. Burke says he will be back to town council asking for permission to enter into a contract with an emergency alarm system provider for town residents.

“It was bound to happen on somebody’s watch and it happened on your watch,” Mayor Collins told Chief Wingert at the close of the discussion. “We don’t hold that against you.”

Northeast Valley Managing Editor Terrance Thornton can be contacted at tthornton@newszap.com

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