UW Police

Campus Alarms

Each department that has an alarm (temperature, intrusion or duress) is responsible for ordering, maintaining, upgrading and cancelling their own service.

Departments with new alarms must register their alarm with the University of Washington Police Department by completing an Alarm Registration Form. It is important that UWPD officers and the UWPD Dispatch Center always know the location of alarms so that officers can respond quickly and efficiently to all calls.

The Problem of False Alarms

In the United States in 2002, police responded to approximately 36 million alarm activations at an estimated annual cost of $1.8 billion. Most of these activations were burglar alarms. The vast majority of alarm calls—typically 94 to 98 percent—are false.

Causes of False Alarms

Chronic false alarm activations are often due to inadequate employee training or inferior systems that have not been upgraded.

Most University of Washington false alarms result from user errors, such as using incorrect keypad codes, leaving a door or window open when activating the alarm, and entering and exiting alarmed premises incorrectly.

Costs of False Alarms

Each false alarm requires approximately 20 minutes of police time, usually for two or more officers. Typical costs include:

  • costs associated with call displacement because the response to other 911 calls takes longer
  • personnel costs of police officers and dispatchers
  • administrative costs associated with analyzing and charging for false alarms
  • software, hardware, office space and equipment costs for false alarm management
  • administrative and staff costs for notifications, permitting, billing
  • costs of developing, printing and distributing publications to educate the public about false alarms
  • Most importantly, lost-opportunity costs, including time that police could have spent problem solving to reduce, prevent and deter crime as well as time police could have spent engaging the community in public safety initiatives

Specific Responses to Reduce False Alarms at the UW

The UWPD charges a fee for all false hold-up, intrusion and panic alarms so that police do not have to absorb the costs of false calls and to encourage responsible handling of these alarms. False alarms use up valuable police resources that could be needed elsewhere.

The UWPD charges $100 per false alarm to the offending subscriber department.

Call the UWPD Alarms Coordinator at 206.543.0507 to discuss your concerns.