Are Talk Down Services the Best Option for Deterring Crime?

In the latest edition of our “Ask the Expert” blog series, we’re answering: Are talk down services the best option for deterring crime?
Are talk down services the best option for deterring crime?

The Answer

When it comes to deterring crime, speed and accuracy are extremely important. And when suspicious activity is detected at a business, there are only seconds to figure out what’s going on – with no room for error.

Video surveillance powered by artificial intelligence is a powerful tool when it comes to monitoring and detecting crime at your business.

But what are your options when it’s time to tell someone to leave your property? 

Are talk down services the best option for deterring crime?

Many business owners perceive live talk down services as having a greater chance of success. 

For those not familiar, a live talk down service is a feature where a surveillance system detects suspicious activity and a live human agent communicates via loudspeaker, telling the trespasser to leave the property (e.g., “Hey you in the green sweatshirt, you are trespassing and need to leave now.”)

While a live human interacting with potential thieves or vandals may sound like an effective method, it leaves a lot of room for error.

When it comes to providing effective physical security, several factors are crucial to the mission, including: scalability, accuracy, and limiting liability.

And when you insert the element of a live agent into that equation, the wildcard of human error becomes an issue. Here are a few areas where humans come up short in a live talk down situation:

  • Raising the Alarm

    While a trespasser may hear a live agent talking to them, any passersby or witnesses in the area may not interpret the talk down service as a potential criminal issue. In contrast, audiovisual deterrents, such as loud sirens and strobe lights, serve as a universal indicator that something is wrong.

  • Language Barriers

    In the event of a trespasser, a remote agent has no way to tell what language the suspect speaks. Not all agents are bilingual, trilingual, and so on. And you never know if the person you’re talking to will understand the message being relayed.

  • Liability

    No matter how much training you provide, there’s always a chance that in the heat of the moment – especially when a crime is in progress – a live agent may say the wrong thing. This creates the potential for legal issues, and the potential to negatively impact your brand's reputation in the long run.

With a live talk down service, it comes down to weighing the risks with the perceived benefits.

At Pro-Vigil, we have found that taking a multi-layered approach allows us to train operators for specific tasks – so they become an expert in their specific area of the monitoring process.

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When suspicious activity is detected, we play pre-recorded messages that get harsher as the incident escalates.

We analyze the suspect’s gender, the hour of the day, and a variety of other factors to determine the right message to play, for how long, and how loud or soft it should be.

Pre-recorded messages ensure consistency – you always know what the messages are going to say, and through years of research, we know which messages make someone more responsive, allowing us to deter 97% of intruders.

Are talk down services the best option for deterring crime?

And just because they aren’t live doesn’t mean that pre-recorded messages can’t be customized.

For example, auto dealerships frequently have customers visit after hours that may be mistaken for trespassers.

In that case, our pre-recorded messages begin by politely telling them that they are trespassing and that they’ll need to come back during business hours.

In other situations, it’s necessary to deploy audio and visual deterrents much sooner.

Are talk down services the best option for deterring crime?

From auto lots, to construction sites, to self-storage facilities, a siren or strobe light is a universal sign to leave, which overcomes any language barriers that may exist between trespasser and monitoring agent.

Take a construction site for example. These are locations that typically have a pre-defined perimeter and specific hours when no one should be on-site.

In this case, we can skip pre-recorded messages altogether and deploy audio and visual deterrents immediately, rather than wasting time going through a set of talking points to diffuse the situation.

As with any business, it’s important to mitigate liability. Pre-recorded messages do just that by removing the human factor. They require no security guard to physically be onsite, which removes the chance for an employee to potentially be injured in a confrontation.

When it comes to providing the best physical security out there, we drive our business using analytics and real results to minimize liability and elevate the user experience. For business owners, this plays out in dollars not spent on legal fees or on the cost of replacing stolen inventory.

Do you have a question for our experts? Let us know! Feel free to reach out to us and your question may just be answered in our next Ask the Experts blog.

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