Alarm ordinance watch

SSN Staff  - 
Sunday, April 1, 2007

Minneapolis, Minn.
The Downtown Journal reported that the City Council debated a new burglar alarm ordinance in early March that would start charging residents and businesses a fee for every false alarm, eventually sending the measure back to committee for further review. Currently, alarm owners are charged a $200 fee for a third false alarm, increasing by $100 for each further false alarm. The Public Safety and Regulatory Services Committee voted at their Feb. 28 meeting to approve an ordinance that would charge $30 for a first false alarm. Along with paying that fee, alarm owners would then be required to register their alarm system with the city. The second false alarm would cost $100, with each false alarm thereafter increasing by $100. The committee originally considered an ordinance that would have created an annual registration fee of $15 for residents and $40 for businesses, but several council members registered concerns about charging residents for a public safety service. "The intention may be good, but this is wrong," Council Member Ralph Remington was quoted in the Journal.

N. Richland Hills, Texas
Jimmy Perdue, chief of police here, in mid February sent an open letter to "all alarm installation and monitoring companies providing services in the city of North Richland Hills," alerting them that North Richland Hills "is striving to significantly reduce false alarms in the city." Part of this is a new ordinance adopted at the end of last year. Further, the city has hired ATB Services to administer the ordinance. The chief asked everyone addressed to provide ATB with a current list of existing customers, along with their respective addresses, saying that the information will remain confidential.

Middletown, Conn.
Citizens here have rebelled against a new alarm ordinance that went into effect Jan. 31. It introduced a $24 annual registration fee for alarm systems, and imposed a $100 fine on anyone failing to register by Jan. 31. The $25 fee has been eliminated, but the $100 fine for failing to register on an annual basis has been retained.

Olympia, Wash.
The City Council here is considering a proposal by police chief Dusty Pierpoint, the Olympian reported, that would revise how fines are assessed for false alarms. Currently, alarm owners, homes or businesses, are charged $50 if police respond to a third false alarm in a 90-day period. Fines increase incrementally to $150 for every further alarm, then reset to zero when the 90-day period ends. You can imagine the billing nightmare. Pierpoint's proposal would bill $50 for the fourth and every following false burglary alarm in a calendar year. False robbery alarms would cost $150 for the fourth and subsequent alarms, as they require more police response. The new ordinance was voted on March 19, after press time, and was expected to pass.

Tracy, Calif.
A new ordinance went into place here Jan. 1, 2007, reported the Record. It requires permits for all alarm systems, which cost $20. The first time police respond to a false alarm at a non-permitted residence, the alarm owner is given two weeks to get a permit. After that, a third false alarm in a calendar year results in a $100 fine. It increases to $500 for a fifth false alarm, at which point police will no longer respond to alarms at that address.