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Burglar Alarm Policy


Welcome to the City of Milwaukee Burglar Alarm web page. This site is intended to provide information regarding Milwaukee’s Burglar Alarm policy including ordinance changes, updates, procedural changes, frequently asked questions, and scam alerts.

On September 19, 2004, the Verified Response Policy to burglar alarms was implemented by the Milwaukee Police Department. This means that the Milwaukee Police Department no longer responds to the report of a burglar alarm activation that is not first verified by a Private First Responder Service.

Public Safety Ordinance
Public Safety Ordinance #105-75-14-c-5 requires that alarm businesses provide a Private First Responder Service to respond to your activated burglary alarm to verify that a cause for the alarm exists prior to contacting the police department. If the alarm responder determines that a crime or an attempted crime has occurred or is occurring at the alarmed premise (a verified alarm), the responder will call for immediate police response. The complete Public Safety ordinance #105-75 pertaining to burglar alarms, alarm business requirements, prohibited systems, etc., may be viewed online at www.milwaukee.gov.
Click here to read the complete Public Safety ordinance pertaining to burglar alarms.
Frequently asked questions:
Why did Milwaukee implement the Verified Response to Burglar Alarm policy?

The Verified Response policy was implemented due to the high false burglar alarm rate causing inefficient use of police resources.

Prior to September 19, 2004, the Milwaukee Police Department was responding to approximately 30,000 burglar alarms per year, 97% of which were false. Current yearly statistics reveal that MPD responded to approximately 800 burglar alarms, 70% of which were false.

What is a private first responder? Who will be responding to alarm activation from my residence/business?

A private first responder is a security service or guard company, which is contracted by your selected alarm company to respond to your burglar alarm activation. As Private First Responder businesses are required to obtain a Private First Responder license from the city, the alarm company that you select should be able to tell you the name, location and phone number of the private first responder service that will be responding to your alarmed premise.
While public safety is most important, citizens should not respond to an activated burglar alarm until after the Private First Responder has determined the alarm to be false, or in the case of a verified burglar alarm, stand-by in a safe location until the police arrive and secure the scene.

Alarm businesses are required to contact a Private First Responder Service to respond to burglary alarm activations and should not be contacting the homeowner or resident to respond to alarm activations.
What is the difference between an alarm company and an alarm monitoring company?

They are both considered “Alarm Businesses” which are required to obtain an Alarm Business License prior to operating in the City of Milwaukee, however they both serve 2 very different functions.

An alarm company is the company that sells and installs the alarm security system. Most alarm companies contract with a separate alarm monitoring company whose role is considered more “behind the scenes” as the sole function of a monitoring company is to monitor your alarm activations. Many consumers are not aware that most likely they may be dealing with 2 companies when they purchase an alarm system, and are surprised to discover an unexpected additional monthly monitoring fee on their charge card statement or the monitoring fee is automatically debited from their checking account each month.

Prior to purchasing an alarm system, it is important for you to determine the name and contact information of the alarm monitoring company that will be monitoring your burglar alarm. This will enable you to contact the monitoring company and ask them to explain their procedure when handling alarm activation from your residence/ business. If the monitoring company’s reply is not in accordance with Milwaukee’s Public Safety ordinance and/or Verified Response policy, you may want to keep shopping.

The alarm monitoring company should be aware that for City of Milwaukee burglar alarm activations, their monitoring operators are to contact the Private First Responder Service listed on the alarm account to respond and verify the alarm activation. They should not be contacting the police department with an alarm that is not verified. The Milwaukee Police Department does not respond to the report of a non-verified burglar alarm.

What do I need to know before purchasing an alarm system?

Although alarm businesses are required to obtain an Alarm Business License prior to operating as an alarm business in the City of Milwaukee, be advised that the issuance of a license does not guarantee the service or reputation of a business.
There are over 100 licensed alarm businesses currently operating in Milwaukee. To check whether an alarm business has obtained the proper license, you may visit the City Clerk License Division website at www.milwaukee.gov/license or call the office at 414-286-2238.
It is recommended to check at least one of the following references prior to selecting a business or signing any contract:
The Better Business Bureau provides information regarding complaint history, customer satisfaction, and the length of time a business has been in operation. http://www.bbb.org/
The Department of Consumer Protection is used to check the business for a possible complaint history or any legal action taken. Contact the Wisconsin Dept. Of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection, 608-224-5012, or the Consumer Protection Hotline, 800-422-7128. http://datcp.wi.gov/consumer/consumer_protection/index.aspx
Conduct a Google search or use another Internet search engine and search the company name.

To avoid being scammed or misled, familiarize yourself with the City of Milwaukee’s Public Safety Ordinance mentioned above as it relates to the Verified Response to Burglar Alarms policy and specific Prohibited Systems.
The Milwaukee Police Department does not respond to panic alarms. Panic alarms are considered a prohibited system and are illegal in the City of Milwaukee.
Do not be rushed or pressured into making a decision or signing the contract “today.”
Be wary of the promise of a “free” security system and long-term contracts. Nothing is FREE!
Have a relative or friend review the contract with you. Again, do not be rushed or pressured for any reason into signing a contract.
Before signing a contract, check at least one of the above 3 listed references, and ask the following questions.

Where is the alarm business located? (Local or out of state?)
What is the name of the Alarm Monitoring Company that will be monitoring your alarm and where is this company located? (Ask the sales rep to show you on the contract where the specific monthly monitoring fees are listed and the term length of the contract that you are committing to. (Be advised that you have 3 days to cancel a contract after signing it. Afterward, cancelling a contract becomes very difficult.)
As most monitoring companies are located out of state, ask the alarm sales rep if the monitoring company is familiar with Milwaukee’s alarm policy, and if so whom will the monitoring company contact to respond to your residence/business in the event of alarm activation (This is where the sales rep should be able to provide you with information as to the name, phone number and location of the Private First Responder Service that will be responding to your alarm.)
Who will service the equipment if it needs to be repaired or replaced? Where is the service office located and how can they be reached?
What happens to your alarm contract / account if and when this company sells their alarm accounts, or another alarm company purchases all their alarm accounts? This happens frequently in the alarm industry.
Prior to signing a contract, if you would like to confirm any information given to you by a door-to-door alarm company sales representative, you may contact the Milwaukee Police Department Alarm Office at 414-935-7167.

If you should experience overly aggressive or an unscrupulous door-to-door sales representative, report the situation by calling the Milwaukee Police Department non-emergency phone number of 933-4444, or leave a message for the Police Alarm Officer at 935-7167.
Obtain as much information as you can such as the company name, the name of the sales rep, and if possible the phone number and location of the company. Also, leave your name, address and phone number in the event additional information is needed for the investigation. Your information will not be given to anyone or used in any reports without your permission.
How do I locate a reputable alarm company to install a security system for my home or business?

The yellow pages listing under “Security” provides several names of local security companies to investigate. Also, remember that the list of licensed alarm businesses for Milwaukee is made available on the License Division website listed above or by calling their office, or the Police Alarm Office.

How do I know what type of alarm to have installed?

All premises, business or residential have various security needs. After selecting a reputable alarm company, the representative of the company should be able to customize a security system for your particular needs.

How many false alarms are allowed before receiving a citation?

More than 2 false alarms within a calendar year are subject to receiving a citation.

Armed with the information on this web page, you should be able to make an informed decision in the event you decide to purchase a security system for your home or business.

To check whether an alarm business has obtained the proper license, you may visit the City Clerk License Division website at www.milwaukee.gov/license or call the office at 414-286-2238.

The Better Business Bureau provides information regarding complaint history, customer satisfaction, and the length of time a business has been in operation. http://www.bbb.org/

The Department of Consumer Protection is used to check the business for a possible complaint history or any legal action taken. Contact the Wisconsin Dept. Of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection, 608-224-5012, or the Consumer Protection Hotline, 800-422-7128. http://datcp.wi.gov/consumer/consumer_protection/index.aspx

To confirm any information given to you by a door-to-door alarm company sales representative, you may contact the Milwaukee Police Department Alarm Office at 414-935-7167.  

If you should experience overly aggressive or an unscrupulous door-to-door sales representative, report the situation by calling the Milwaukee Police Department non-emergency phone number of 933-4444, or leave a message for the Police Alarm Officer at 935-7167.