Esurance, the official car insurance sponsor of the US Open, is teaming up with the 2012 Olympic Gold Medal-winning Bryan Brothers – Bob and Mike Bryan – and USTA Serves to support two tennis programs benefiting at-risk youth.Facebook users can go to Esurance’s Facebook page at www.esurance.com/facebook to vote for one of the two “game-changing” programs. Esurance will donate $50,000 to USTA Serves and request that it be distributed to each of the programs based on the percentage of votes received. Voters can also enter a sweepstakes to win a trip for two to the men’s singles final of the 2013 US Open.Additionally, visitors to the Facebook page will have access to an exclusive video of the Bryans, as well as more information about USTA Serves and the two participating tennis programs— East Palo Alto Tennis and Tutoring and the Kids and Police Tennis Association.“USTA Serves is excited to partner with Esurance to support East Palo Alto Tennis and Tutoring and Kids and Police Tennis Association. Both programs are game changers for the hundreds of kids benefitting from the powerful combination of tennis and education. Now they’ll get the extra attention, tutoring, and computer support they need to succeed in school and throughout their lives,” said Deborah Larkin, Executive Director USTA Serves.USTA Serves is a not-for-profit entity dedicated to enhancing the lives of at-risk children and individuals with disabilities through the integration of tennis and education. People from all cultural and ethnic backgrounds are beneficiaries of USTA Serves, which supports organizations that use tennis as a vehicle to help at-risk children finish high school and qualify for college scholarships.
False alarms tie up police resources better deployed elsewhere.If Dennis Travale, chair of Norfolk’s Police Services Board, has his way, the time and expense arising from this persistent problem will become a thing of the past in the local area.At Wednesday’s meeting of the PSB, Travale suggested that Norfolk County empower police to ignore alarms when monitoring companies are unable or unwilling to verify their legitimacy.If the policy is adopted, Norfolk OPP will be asked to ignore alarms that are unverified in situations where there is no indication anyone is in danger.Whether the local force is able to comply remains to be seen. Insp. Joe Varga, head of the local force, says the proposed policy conflicts with the provincial force’s best practices.“There’s a lot of work to do on my end,” Varga said. “If we get a call for service through dispatch, it’s a call for service and we respond. There’s a liability if we don’t.”Travale countered that the Norfolk OPP – as employees of Norfolk County – should respect the county’s corporate position if that is what its elected leadership decides.False alarms at businesses and in homes are a drain on the public purse. Typically, two front-line officers will spend 30 minutes at the scene confirming that an alarm is false. Multiply by hundreds of occurrences a year and false alarms come at a significant price.Norfolk County has an escalating schedule of fines for keyholders where false alarms are chronic.Nikki Slote, Norfolk’s manager of administrative and client services, told the PSB the paperwork involved can be time-consuming. She added Travale’s plan would lighten the workload in her department considerably.Alarm systems go off for a variety of reasons.High winds trigger some systems while lightning and power surges can keep front-line officers occupied for hours. Pets and mice set off alarms while other systems are poorly installed and will sound at the slightest vibration.Slote said there have been 272 at-fault false alarms in Norfolk so far this year. This compares with 250 at-fault alarms last year and 229 in 2017. Slote estimates there could be as many as a dozen alarm monitoring companies doing business in Norfolk.The county charges $45 to register a security system. Owners are allowed one false alarm before the escalating fines kick in.For registered alarm owners, the first fine totals $75. For owners of unregistered systems, fines start at $100. Slote says 107 alarm systems are registered with the county.In his presentation, Travale cited the Toronto Police Service as a force that only sends officers to investigate verified alarms. Travale pointed out that as many as 95 per cent of burglar alarms in some jurisdictions will be false.Travale will present his proposal to Norfolk council Sept. 17. In the end, council will decide if it wants monitoring company verification before Norfolk OPP respond to an alarm. Whether OPP headquarters in Orillia would agree to such a change is another question entirely.MSonnenberg@postmedia.com