By: Mike Miller
For over a decade, the Security Industry Alarm Coalition has answered every call and responded to every situation where and when needed by the industry. They have done this without consideration of the size of the city or the distance to be traveled; all while never asking for a dime. Perhaps this was a mistake, but in truth they have viewed their mission as altruistic and the contributions they received were spent regardless of anything except a need for assistance.
Some say that SIAC is a victim of their own successes and this might be a very appropriate description of what has been accomplished. However, what most people view as SIAC’s primary mission is just the tip of the preverbal iceberg.
Opposing onerous legislation is a very small part of what SIAC does. If all that they did was to respond to these crisis situations, the battle would have been lost and they would have had to close their doors long ago. The proactive mission that they engage in stops many bad things from happening. SIAC has formed 17 state alarm committees that are managed by the state police chief’s associations. In states where these committees are located, 3 police chiefs and 3 alarm industry members meet and steer alarm policies and ordinances for the entire state. Cooperatively, these committees are provided the opportunity to meet with local officials and explain what the options are and more important, ensure they are listened to.
Why doesn’t SIAC form a committee in every state? Without question, that is the ultimate goal. But with only 4 full-time SIAC employees, there isn’t enough time or money to make that happen.
At the same time that these state committees are working, SIAC employees serve on committees at the national level for police chiefs and sheriffs, providing the industry access and a voice for you and your customers. This level of access is unprecedented by our industry and it has taken many years to gain the trust and confidence that we now enjoy with law enforcement.
What isn’t obvious is how one bad policy can quickly become 10. Just as each of us has influence over a handful of people in our personal and professional lives, cities and counties are influenced by what their peers are doing. A bad policy that looks good can quickly become many more until it is not economically feasible to fight.
In spite of all of the success that SIAC has earned, it is frightening just how few people actually contribute. As large as our industry has become, 75 percent of SIAC’s income comes from only 10 contributors. While this is a real blessing, it also exposes SIAC to the impact of losing even one of these contributions. Even though SIAC’s successes impact all companies large and small equally, what’s been missing all along are contributions from the general alarm industry.
The policy “of the day” seems to be requiring alarm companies collect all registration fees and fines. On the surface it may sound innocuous but consider the details involved. You receive a monthly invoice for false responses for all of your customers. If you are a central station, your first move is to identify which dealer each of the customers belongs to. Now you have to research what happened, contact the dealer who then has to contact the customer. It would be an administrative nightmare, especially considering that billing you for these alarms is actually unconstitutional. In each of the jurisdictions where this could have happened, the industry would be required to spend thousands of dollars in order to comply.
The industry must come to recognize exactly what is at stake, and gladly agree to fund SIAC. Sadly this is not the case, and we are in real jeopardy of not being able to fund SIAC at a level that even allows us to remain at the status quo.
I encourage you to visit the SIAC website and look at the contributors. See where their support has come through and please consider adding your name to this list.
Mike Miller is President of Moon Security, an SDM top 100 company in Pasco, Washington. Mike is a Past President of the ESA, and is a full board member of SIAC.