Alarm ordinance watch

SSN Staff  - 
Friday, December 1, 2006

Windsor Locks, Conn.

Town selectmen here are discussing a change to the false alarm ordinance, after Police Chief John Suchocki reported responding to 355 alarms between Jan. 1 and Oct. 20, the Windsor Locks Journal reported. Suchocki said the majority of those alarms were false and so the police and fire departments are reviewing the current 12-page ordinance that allows four false alarms before imposing a $25 fine for each subsequent alarm. The chief proposes allowing only three false alarms before imposing a $50 fine, and increasing that fine $50 for each alarm up to seven. The eighth alarm would result in a $250 fine. The final version will have to pass by the town attorney and town meeting before becoming law.

Youngstown, Ohio

The Valley Vindicator reported that police here responded to 46 false alarms at one location, Lighthouse Ministries, in the month of October alone. Patrolman John Hull II has requested the Ministries be put on a do-not-respond list, per a city ordinance that says five false alarms in a 12-month period can lead to that result. The officer also requested that the Rev. Leroy Jenkins be served with a hearing notice for negligent false alarms.

Taunton, Mass.

A misunderstanding over the town's false alarm ordinance is partially to blame for a crippling break-in at Memorial United Methodist Church, the Enterprise reported. The Rev. Jane S. Lawrence said she had turned off her church's alarm because of glitches in the system that were causing false alarm dispatches. It was her understanding that frequent false alarms would lead to fines she couldn't afford. Unfortunately, said Police Chief Raymond L. O'Berg, as a non-profit her location is exempt from the ordinance and she should have kept her alarm system functioning. It may have kept thieves from stealing, in early November, nearly everything of value in the church, including seven new computers, valuable religious icons, even $52 in offerings from the previous night's service. The thieves were apparently in the church for some time, repeatedly bashing a steel door leading to Lawrence's office until its lock gave way.

Edgewood, Ohio

Police Chief Anthony Kramer and the city council here are considering an ordinance to penalize false alarms, the Community Press reported. Kramer said the department responded to 723 false alarms in 2004, with an officer taking between 10 and 20 minutes on each call. Kramer is drafting an ordinance he will present to council, imposing penalties for habitual offenders. He said the ordinance would likely include false fire alarms as well.

Cutler Bay, Fla.

The Town Council here approved a new ordinance requiring residents to register their alarm systems with the town instead of the county. Further, the law sets a penalty of $50 for every false alarm, starting with the first, which is stricter than the county law, which sets penalties following an initial grace period of three false alarms in a calendar year. Interim Village attorney Mitchell Bierman prepared the ordinance.