Alarm ordinance watch

SSN Staff  - 
Thursday, February 1, 2007

Minneapolis, Minn.

The City Council here is considering a new alarm registration fee, which would cost homeowners $15 a year, businesses $40, the Downtown Journal reported. The city already has in place a false-alarm ordinance that charges $200 for a third false alarm in a calendar year, and $100 for each additional false alarm. However, those fees only generate roughly $300,000 and city officials estimate the cost of responding to false alarms at $800,000 annually. The new fees would raise an additional $370,000. The council had yet to approve the fees at press time, but had included the money raised in a recent budget proposal, so passage seems likely. Currently, 84 percent of alarm calls are deemed false by the police department.

Fishers, Ind.

Residents here are being asked to comply with a number of fee and fine hikes, including a doubling of fines for false homeowner emergency alarms, reported First, second and third violations last year resulted in $25, $50 and $75 fines, respectively, and now result in $50, $100 and $150 fines. Residents with a permit for their alarm system don't receive fines until the fourth false alarm. To put the initiative in context, residents will see parking tickets jump from $10 to $50, and will now have to pay $50 for failing to remove animal waste and $100 for failing to sterilize an animal.

Burleson, Texas

On Dec. 14, the City Council here passed a new alarm ordinance, reported the North Texas Alarm Association. Under the new ordinance, residents will be required to register their alarm systems for $50 annually. Businesses will pay $100. In addition, the fourth false alarm in a calendar year will result in a $50 fine, and escalate until the 10th false alarm, at which point the homeowner's or business owner's permit will be revoked. The ordinance also governs the way alarm companies do business. Central stations are now required to call two different numbers before requesting dispatch, participate in system performance reviews by the alarm administrator, participate in an alarm-owner school program, and agree not to dispatch to a home where the permit has been revoked.

Nassau County, N.Y.

Newsday reported that legislators here are debating whether police should be authorized to ignore some burglar alarms. One proposal would require a county permit for alarm systems that request dispatch, and would hike the current fee of $25 per false alarm to a graduated scale that would have a $250 fine for the 10th offense in a year. Nassau Police Chief Stephen McDonald estimated that 22 percent of all false alarms are generated by just three percent of alarm owners. At least some legislators argued that alarm companies are to blame for the false-alarm problem. One legislator proposed licensing security system installers. However, Joseph Scannell, a Democrat from Baldwin, argued that police should continue responding to all alarms: "The last thing we need is for criminals to read in Newsday that we're not going to be responding. That's the worst possible message to send to our taxpayers."