By NASH NUNNERY
While the world waits out the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic, the business of protecting Mississippians and their property proceeds without interruption.
By the time you finish reading this paragraph, at least one home in the U.S. has been burglarized. According to statistics from the Federal Bureau of Investigation, a home burglary occurs every 13 seconds. Approximately 2.3 to 2.6 million burglaries occur in the nation each year.
Jack Torrance, current president of the Mississippi Security Association, says the 96-member MSA is doing its part to keep Mississippians safe during (and after) the coronavirus crisis.
“At first, it was tough. Jobs were cancelling left and right because they didn’t want us in their home or business. However, after five weeks it seems to be picking up”, he said. “Since people are stuck at home, they’re getting systems installed, service calls done and 3G communicators upgraded since they are already home and don’t have to miss work to meet us.”
The MSA currently has 96 regular members. Regular members are alarm contracting companies that provide electronic protective systems to commercial and residential locations in Mississippi. All regular members must be licensed with the Mississippi State Fire Marshal’s Electronic Protection Systems.
MSA also boasts 33 associate members. Associate members are business entities that manufacture, distribute, supply, deal or sell products or services that relate to and are necessary to the MSA membership.
There are currently 356 licensed electronic security companies in the state.
Founded in 1982, the MSA began training burglar and fire alarm technicians a year later using NTS curriculum, according to MSA executive director Shelley Pettit.
“Since then, we have added access control, CCTV and security sales,” she said. “In 2020, the MSA Training School was formed – we now offer Level 1 online and in the classroom. Many other courses are being reviewed and updated, and will be added by the end of the year.”
The organization also offers continuing education units for its membership.
Torrance, who co-founded Flowood-based Global Sector Services with his brother in 1985, said technological advances in the industry have grown exponentially in the last 35 years.
“There was a time when everything was a hard-wired security system. Now, just about everything is wireless. Cameras and home automation have also evolved tremendously over the years,” he said. “One advantage of our association is each month we bring in different speakers to our meetings to talk about the latest and greatest new cutting-edge technology their particular company has to offer.
“It’s also a great opportunity at our meetings to network with other dealers to find out what new technology their company is using and explain the benefits and why.”
Torrance believes the biggest future advances in the industry will be in home automation.
“We’ve already got the ability to drive up to your home and your system recognizes your cell phone and instantly turns off your alarm, opens the garage door, sets your thermostat to 73 degrees, unlocks your entry door and cuts on certain lights,” he said. “That’s called a scene and we do that every day now. It’s just hard to imagine what we can do with video analytics and voice recognition in the next 20 years.”
Choosing the right company to install the right electronic security system in the home is a matter of deduction, Torrance said.
“Ask your friends, relatives and neighbors who they used and if they are satisfied. Then do your own research on social media and Google, and see how all the reviews look. Finally, choose a company that’s been around for a while with a good reputation in the community.
“Shop locally first. Do your homework on the company coming into your home and make sure they are licensed and have insurance,” he added.
Have requests for electronic security systems risen in the last 5-10 years? Indeed, said Torrance.
“The only thing that stays the same is change. We’ll always have crime, but lately it seems to be getting worse,” he said. “It used to be like pulling teeth to convince home owners they needed a security system. Now, that’s not a problem. Just watch the news every night or read the newspaper.
“I don’t have exact statistics, but there’s no doubt there’s a greater need for security and cameras than ever before.”