Sure, it's alarming that an estimated 98 percent of burglary alarms are false reports. But that's a poor excuse for the St. Clair County Sheriff's Department to decide not to respond when an alarm sounds.
Imagine how you'd feel if you were in that unlucky 2 percent like the American Legion Post 1255 near Belleville. Legion members expected sheriff's deputies to show up when their building's alarm went off. But the bad guys no doubt knew in advance about this policy and took their sweet time tearing up the place.
Sheriff's Capt. Steve Johnson said the department is constantly reviewing its procedures and looking at the best way to allocate its staff. Good, so change this procedure immediately. Responding to alarms is a basic part of keeping the county safe.
Even East St. Louis' extremely short-staffed Police Department understands that and still responds to burglar alarms. The Madison County Sheriff's Department sends out a deputy when an alarm goes off, even if the homeowner says it was a mistake, on the even more remote chance that a criminal has forced the resident to give the all clear.
If the St. Clair County Sheriff's Department wants to charge businesses and homeowners a reasonable amount to respond to false alarms, fine. Just respond.