Gernatt v. Gregoire—Is Your Home Alarm an Emergency?
There’s a really interesting court case that homeowners should keep an eye on, especially those with an alarm system. Gernatt v. Gregoire has the potential to shape the definition of an “emergency” as it pertains to home security. In this article, explore how Gernatt v. Gregoire could impact how—or if—law enforcement will respond to your home in the event of a triggered alarm.
Understanding Gernatt v. Gregoire
First, a disclaimer: we aren’t lawyers, and there’s more nuance to this case than we can capture here.
In brief, the Gernatt v. Gregoire lawsuit pertains to a collision involving a police vehicle. A New York State Trooper, while responding to a police dispatch for a “possible burglar alarm,” hit another vehicle. The trooper was driving above the speed limit and did not have lights or sirens engaged. The plaintiff, who was driving the other vehicle and turned left in front of the oncoming police car, suffered injuries in the collision.
You might be wondering how this impacts you. Well, this case hinges on what police should do in response to a home alarm, which may or may not involve a genuine emergency. If a home alarm is an emergency, high-speed driving is reasonably warranted. But if it’s not an emergency, that driving could be considered reckless.
The judgment so far suggests that certain police responses, like those to a burglar alarm, may not necessarily justify the same level of emergency response as others. That could pose a problem for households that use a traditional alarm system.
Ultimately, Gernatt v. Gregoire might be cause for reconsidering your home security plan. But we’ll get into that in just a minute.
What’s Happened So Far
The case of Gernatt v. Gregoire raises the question of whether the trooper’s conduct during the response constituted “reckless disregard for the safety of others.” This represents a higher legal standard than ordinary negligence.
In this context, it’s useful to understand the distinction between reckless disregard and ordinary negligence. Reckless disregard implies that the defendant intentionally engaged in unreasonable conduct by ignoring a known or obvious risk, with a high likelihood of causing harm and conscious indifference to the outcome. By comparison, ordinary negligence typically involves a lack of due care under the circumstances.
The trooper argued that he was engaged in an emergency operation, which exempted him from the rules of the road. Therefore, his actions were not reckless. The lower court initially granted a summary judgment and dismissed the plaintiff’s complaint, citing the trooper’s right-of-way and the emergency operation exemption.
However, on appeal, the courts reversed the decision and reinstated the case. They found that the circumstances of the trooper’s response could be seen as reckless conduct, primarily because the trooper was unsure whether he was responding to a genuine emergency.
In other words, a “possible burglar alarm” might not be reason enough for the police to drive the way they do when an emergency situation is unfolding.
How Gernatt v. Gregoire Relates to Home Security
This case touches on how police distinguish between genuine emergencies and non-emergencies. And how they respond to each situation.
Traditional alarm systems, such as those triggered by motion sensors, door or window sensors, or glass break detectors, have a history of producing false alarms. Many different factors can cause false alarms, including user errors, technical malfunctions, or even wandering pets.
Law enforcement agencies must allocate their resources efficiently. They prioritize calls based on the perceived urgency and the potential threat to public safety. Alarm signals, which are often unverified, might not receive high priority if there’s no evidence of an actual crime in progress.
As a result, many police departments and municipalities have implemented policies to reduce the impact of false alarms. These policies include requiring alarm system owners to register their systems, establishing alarm verification procedures, and imposing fines for repeated false alarms. In some cities, the police don’t respond to unverified alarm calls as a rule. These measures are intended to improve the efficiency of law enforcement responses and ensure that they are reserved for genuine emergencies.
Will This Affect Police Response Times?
Considering the implications of Gernatt v. Gregoire, the police would understandably prefer to verify the authenticity of burglary alarms before responding. In this way, they could reduce their own liability while continuing to serve those in need. Unfortunately, verification takes time and labor that overburdened police forces don’t have.
Factors that affect the police’s response times to burglar alarms include:
- Police Prioritization: Much like triaging patients in an emergency room, police departments prioritize calls based on urgency. Alarm signals from security systems are often a low priority, especially if there’s a high rate of false alarms in your area.
- False Alarms: Traditional home security systems are prone to false alarms, which strain police resources and lead to delayed responses. In some places, repeated false alarms may result in fines or no police response.
- Evidence and Verification: Providing police with sufficient evidence of a threat is crucial. Live security monitoring services, like Deep Sentinel, offer real-time verification. They can assess the situation and provide valuable information to the police, helping ensure a rapid response.
- Crime in Progress: When a crime is unfolding, every moment counts. Immediate action can mean the difference between investigating a crime and preventing it. As a result, active crimes rise to the top of the response queue. A live-monitored system can provide real-time notifications to the property owner and the authorities, prompting faster response times and potentially minimizing property loss.
Add to these the potential liability introduced by Gernatt v. Gregoire, and it’s clear that the police have good reason to treat unverified burglar alarms as non-urgent.
Technology can help address these challenges. Live camera surveillance and advanced verification methods reduce false alarms and provide more accurate information to law enforcement. When there’s a genuine emergency, these tools ensure a fast, effective police response.
The Deep Sentinel Solution
When it comes to home security, a monitored system with cameras can help solve the burglar alarm problem. Security professionals can verify the nature of an alarm signal before contacting the police, reducing the risk of unnecessary and potentially reckless responses to false alarms. Deep Sentinel takes this even further by intervening proactively and engaging the police on your behalf (without attempting to contact you 2–3 times first).
Here’s how Deep Sentinel offers significant advantages over traditional alarm systems:
- Real-Time Monitoring: Trained security guards respond immediately to suspicious activity, assess the situation, and verify the need for police intervention.
- Artificial Intelligence: On-board AI rapidly processes each frame to look for anomalies and identify potential trouble.
- No False Alarms: The combination of AI plus live monitoring eliminates false alarms through a two-step threat verification process.
- Quick Police Response: When the system detects a threat, the guards can quickly alert the police and provide them with real-time information, enhancing the chances of a rapid and accurate response.
- Evidence Collection: The system captures video and audio evidence, which can be crucial for investigations.
Considering the likelihood of a quick police response is crucial when choosing home security measures. While both traditional alarm systems and live surveillance promise protection, Deep Sentinel provides a more effective solution. Especially during a burglary in progress, real-time security camera monitoring and threat verification improve the chances of a swift police response.
When Deep Sentinel calls, the police answer, and with all the speed a real emergency demands.