Alarm Ordinance Watch

SSN Staff  - 
Monday, December 1, 2008

SEATTLE

The Seattle Police, in an Oct. 22 letter to alarm companies, announced changes to the Seattle Municipal code. The changes go into effect Jan. 1, 2009. First among the changes is the requirement that monitoring companies doing business in Seattle be licensed with the city. A properly licensed monitoring company will be issued a unique identifying number, or UIN, which the monitoring company will be required to provide when calling in an alarm. Failure to provide a UIN will result in non-response to the alarm.

Secondly, the Seattle Municipal Code further requires that alarm companies utilize enhanced call verification every time they call in a burglary/motion/intrusion alarm. Alarm companies must comply with this requirement. Therefore, effective January 1, 2009 the Seattle Police Department will institute a policy of not dispatching officers to alarm calls when the alarm company has not followed the ECV provision of the law. Alarm companies will be instructed to call back when they have made two call verification attempts and must be able to provide the numbers called. More information can be found at the Seattle Police website: http://www.cityofseattle.net/police/programs/alarms/

EMPORIA, Kan.

The Emporia Gazette reports that the Emporia City Commission met on Oct. 29 to discuss their false alarm ordinance with Police Chief Gary Smith and Fire Chief Jack Taylor. The discussion revolved around a redesigned fine structure for false alarms in an effort to reduce the number of unnecessary calls the departments have to go out on. “I don’t have the exact numbers, but historically, over 50 percent of fire alarm system calls are false,” Chief Taylor said in a statement. Many of the false calls are from malfunctioning alarms, and the fines are to encourage owners to have the alarms repaired rather than risk being fined. The commission reached a consensus to approve the fine structure and to prepare an ordinance for the city to act on. The amended ordinance saw the user permit fee increase to $35. The fee schedule also increased, with the alarm company now being charged $100 per false alarm. The end user will now pay $100 for the third false alarm, $200 for the fourth, $300 for the fifth (which also requires alarm system certification by a competent vendor), $400 for the sixth, and $500 for seven or more false alarms in the same calendar year.

HOLLAND, Mich.

According to the Holland Sentinel, the Holland City Council on Nov. 5 approved an ordinance allowing the police department to charge for false security alarms. ?The policy doesn’t charge for the first three false alarms of the year. For alarms four through six, the charge is $50 for each alarm. The next three alarms cost a business $75 each. Charges for false alarms number 10 and beyond would be increased from $75 to $100 each. ?In March, the City Council approved a fine system for false fire alarms. A similar policy for false security alarms has been in place for 20 years, but officials recently discovered the police policy has no city ordinance to back it up, City Manager Soren Wolff said in the report.

DUNDEE, Fla.

NewsChief.com reported on Oct. 30 that the Town Council unanimously approved a false alarm ordinance that allows fees to be charged to those whose alarms summon law enforcement officers when there isn’t an emergency that requires their presence. The town was asked by the Polk County Sheriff’s Office to enact the ordinance so it would mirror the one the county passed in 1997. The ordinance has already been passed by other municipalities that contract with the office for law enforcement services. These communities include Frostproof, Eagle Lake, Fort Meade and Polk City. Fines escalate quickly after the first offense, which doesn’t result in a fine.