Alarm ordinance watch
On July 17, the Vallejo City Council adopted a resolution to enact an ordinance written by Vallejo police chief Robert Nichelini to tighten the penalties for responding to false alarms as well as requiring alarm companies to seek verification that there is a problem before officers are dispatched, according to council minutes. The Council reasoned that the more than 6,500 false alarm responses in 2006 wasted the equivalent of two full-time police officers, thus making a new ordinance necessary. Previously, the city assessed a $150 penalty after the fourth false alarm. The proposed new ordinance will give property owners one free false alarm per year before a $100 penalty is assessed.
Fire Marshal services here will now be offered "a la carte," following a vote at a special town meeting held Aug. 1. The ordinance, the effective date of which the Town Selectman's office could not determine, will add plan review fees for site plans, building plans, fire alarm plans and fire protection systems and equipment plans. The anticipated revenue will be used to offset the salary of an additional half-time fire marshal, reported the Ridgefield Press. The new fees will not affect residences.
Police here advised summer vacationers to register their homes as vacant with the police department, but said, according to the Redding Pilot, that they would not be immune to false alarm charges should their alarms systems be triggered while they're away from home. Since January, the police department has responded to 375 false alarms, and the department is enforcing a false-alarm ordinance that fines homeowners $100 for each false alarm after a three in a calendar year. However, Police Chief Douglas Fuchs still told residents, "Whether or not you are leaving on vacation or just going to the store, make sure your house is locked. And if you have an alarm system, use it." There have been seven residential burglaries in the last 12 months, none of which have led to arrests.
One year after instituting a false-alarm ordinance here, the City Council is reporting a 47-percent reduction in false alarms, and only 50 percent of alarms in the past year turned out to be false, the Seattle Times reported. The ordinance imposes a $50 fine for false alarms two through six, after which the police department will not respond for 90 days unless there is proof of immediate danger. The same article reported that Seattle raised $1.4 million in false alarm fees in 2006.
One year after a three-month education period ended and a new false-alarm ordinance went into effect, the Sheriff's office is reporting that false alarms are down from 9,150 in fiscal year 2006 to 7,381 in fiscal year 2007, which ended July 1.
There were six actual alarms in 2007, down from nine in 2007. Homeowners are now required to register their alarm systems and are fined after three false alarms in a calendar year.