False alarm ordinance watch

SSN Staff  - 
Saturday, November 1, 2003


In late August, the city council here adopted changes to its alarm ordinance that require property owners to renew their alarm permits annually. Alarm permit holders and monitoring companies were notified by mail of the changes, which took effect immediately.

Permits for both home and businesses used to come with a one-time $25 price tag. Under the revised ordinance, homeowners will pay $30 while businesses will pay $50 annually. Failure to obtain a permit could result in fines of up to $500, raised from the $200 cap in the original ordinance.

Permit holders will be allowed five false alarms before they are fined, with each false alarm beyond that costing businesses $50 and residences $25, according to the Dallas Morning News.


A decision on a proposed ordinance has been delayed indefinitely while the city’s law and public safety committee can amend the ordinance to reflect meetings it has held with representatives from the alarm industry, as well as homeowners.

The ordinance seeks to reduce the estimated $1 million the police department wastes on responding to false alarms. It would require all alarm owners to have a valid permit and call for verification of a crime before police would respond. After 10 false alarms at one site, police would be allowed to stop responding.

According to The News and Observer, the revisions to the ordinance include: creating a computerized database to check the registration of alarm users, clarification that apartment owners are not providers and clarification that providers will not be punished for subscribers who abuse the system.


Two weeks after unanimously voting to pass a false alarm ordinance on its first reading, city councilors voted the proposed ordinance down in a second reading.

The ordinance would have fined commercial businesses, firms, associations and corporations $50 for every false burglar alarm to which police responded. Police Chief Bob Newell had requested the ordinance because nearly all of the alarms his department responds to are false. In July alone, police responded to 116 alarms, all of which were false.

After the meeting, Councilor Sheryl Tallman told the Parkersburg News and Sentinel that the ordinance failed because it left no room for error and did not provide any latitude or a grace period before fees were to be imposed.


The Pine Bluff City Council unanimously approved an ordinance requiring permits for all businesses and homeowners with security systems. The approved ordinance did not give the city the authority to inspect security systems, a provision that was included in the original proposal.

Failure to obtain a permit before activation will result in a $100 fine. Beginning with the fourth false alarm in a month, violators will face a $25 fine per false alarm. In a calendar year, violators will be fined $25 per false alarm for the seventh through 15th. The fine jumps to $50 per false alarm for the 16th through 30th violation. After that, the fine will be $100 per occurrence.