Alarm ordinance task force bears fine-laden fruit in Santa Fe

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Wednesday, July 15, 2009

SANTA FE, N.M.—An alarm task force formed here earlier in the year has fulfilled its purpose and has created a new false alarm ordinance, which goes into effect in early October. Security Systems News first reported on the formation of the Alarm Ordinance Task Force in February. At the time, the city’s ordinance was unenforceable, according to SFPD administrative manager Lydia Lioce.

“There were a lot of administrative steps in the old ordinance that just provided for a long, drawn-out process before fees could be collected, and before people would address the issues with their faulty alarms, or learn how to use their alarms properly,” Lioce said. “This is a pretty clean ordinance … Our hope is to educate the public on how to use their alarms, how to set them properly, and if there are problems, to bring in the alarm company to fix the problem and reduce the number of false alarms in the city.”

While the old ordinance allowed five false alarms per year per address, followed by fines of $25 for each subsequent false alarm, the new ordinance is much more stringent. Alarm users are granted three free false alarms per calendar year, followed by a $150 fine for false alarms four and five. False alarms six and up in a calendar year are $300 each. All alarm systems must be registered with the city, and there is also now a penalty of $100 for an unregistered alarm system.

SIAC director Ron Walters said the efforts of the task force—the creation of which he oversaw for SIAC—were considerable. “They passed the ordinance in Santa Fe and it worked the way it was supposed to work, because you’ve got the public’s input. What more could you ask for?” Walters said. “This is the way the American system is supposed to work. The participants in this were not necessarily slanted toward the industry or alarm users. They were law enforecement, city officials and citizens of the city.”

Alarm companies doing business in Santa Fe are required by the ordinance to notify their customers of the city’s new rules. According to NMBFAA executive director Vic Berniklau, the new ordinance is the very positive result of the Task Force working together in harmony. “The original proposed ordinance was very unfavorable to the industry,” Berniklau said. “They came up with a very balanced effort, which was unanimously approved by the city counsel … And it was a good working relationship. It’s not antagonistic, there’s no rocks being thrown. We really feel like we want to continue the working relationship with them.”

Lioce agreed: “We weren’t looking at this as a money making venture … We all worked hard and reached our goal of producing an ordinance that worked for the police department, worked for the citizens, and also worked for the alarm industry,” Lioce said. “Truly, they are our partners in this. They are the ones who will help us in educating the public and who will help their customers be responsible for their alarms.”