Alarm ordinance watch

SSN Staff  - 
Thursday, March 1, 2007

Austin, Texas
The Austin City Council voted in January to change the city's ordinance governing false alarms, according to the American Statesman. The fine structure has ratcheted up from a $50 fine starting with the sixth false alarm to a $50 fine for the fourth false alarm, $75 for six and seven, $100 for eight or more. Also, the permit fee for home security systems has risen from $25 to $30, and homeowners can be fined an additional $200 for a false alarm from an unpermitted system. Violators are billed by mail, and people who do not pay fines can be charged with a misdemeanor and charged an additional $500. Austin police reportedly responded to 23,800 false alarms in 2006.

Tulsa, Okla.
KOTV reported in January that the Police Department here is considering a push for verified response to burglar alarms. Currently battling a 98-percent false alarm rate that saw the police respond to 25,000 alarms in 2006, city officials are making noises that they support the department's push. Tulsa City Councilor Rick Westcott was quoted as saying, "If an officer goes to two or three false calls per shift, that works out to an hour of his time spent non-productively." Currently, police respond more quickly to permitted alarms than non-permitted alarms, but the police feel more needs to be done. The City Council will consider the situation as part of a large move to save money in the police department budget over the next two months.

Brockton, Mass.
City officials here are considering purchasing a $15,000 software package and hiring a city clerk to manage false alarm fines, the Enterprise reported. Currently, there exists a $25 fine for a fourth false alarm, but the city has never put in place a collection method. Following a 2006 with 6,500 false alarms, resulting in thousands of lost man hours for the police department, the city is considering modeling nearby towns like Taunton and Kingston, who have fine-collection systems in place.

Patterson Heights, Penn.
The Beaver County Times reported that the Patterson Heights Council has voted to fine property owners $100 for a fourth false alarm in a calendar year. The borough has also passed an ordinance requiring house numbers be prominently displayed on residential properties. Both ordinances are part of an effort to help emergency responders save money and stay safe.

West Windsor, N.J.
On Jan. 22, the Town Council here passed an ordinance that will require the permitting of residential security alarm systems, reported the Princeton Packet. All private alarms systems will now have to be registered with the West Windsor Township Police Department. Owners will pay an annual fee of $25. Registration will be done between Jan. 1 and March 31 each year, or 30 days after installation for new systems.