False alarm ordinance watch

SSN Staff  - 
Friday, August 1, 2003

Marysville, Wash.

Under an ordinance passed by the City Council earlier this year, police here will start fining people for false alarms, which the council defined as any alarm not triggered by an intruder.

The ordinance imposes a $100 fine for every false alarm after the first within a six-month period. Those who don’t fix the problem may face an order from the police chief to disconnect their alarms altogether.

According to The Daily Herald, in 2002, there were 1,100 alarm calls in Marysville, 80 percent of which were false. A police department spokesman quoted by the newspaper estimated that those false alarms cost the department $28,000.

San Joaquin County, Calif.

Sheriff’s deputies here began enforcing the Alarm Reduction Program in June in an effort to update the sheriff’s department’s record and lower the number of false alarms it responds to.

Residents and business owners are now required to file and keep updated alarm permits.

Under the county ordinance, users will face no charge for the first false alarm call in a 12-month period. The second will cost users $20, which increases by $10 per call through the sixth false alarm, after which each call will cost up to $85.

According to the Tri-Valley Herald, the sheriff’s department estimates that 98 percent of all alarm activations are false alarms.

Washington County, Ore.

Washington County commissioners voted unanimously in mid-July to create a new alarm permit ordinance. This will allow the Washington County Sheriff’s Department to revoke permits and not respond to homes or businesses where false alarm fees have not been paid within 60 days or if four or more false alarms occur in a year.

The department proposed the ordinance in early July and would like it approved by the end of the summer, according to The Oregonian.

Under the ordinance, the sheriff’s department would also be allowed to suspend service to any of the county’s more than 14,000 alarm owners who don’t renew annual permits or who fail to pay false-alarm fines. Commissioners will hold a public hearing on the ordinance before taking a final vote.

Wayne, Ind.

Kosciusko County Sheriff Aaron Rovenstine asked the Kosciusko County Commissioners to consider an ordinance that would charge a fee for businesses or residences that do not respond to false alarms themselves, according to the Warsaw (Ind.) Times-Union.

Last year alone, Rovenstine said, the department responded to around 1,000 false alarms.

The ordinance would include exemptions in cases where the elderly are concerned or during storms. In the first year of the ordinance, the first three false alarms would carry no charge, but after that, the county would levy a $25 charge per incident.

The commissioners agreed to let Rovenstine work with county attorney Mike Miner on drafting an ordinance on false alarms to be presented to the commissioners at a later date.