False alarm ordinance watch

SSN Staff  - 
Monday, March 1, 2004

Chattanooga, Tenn.

Police here will issue citations to burglar alarm owners who are responsible for excessive false alarm calls.

Beginning Jan. 1, residents were required to register their burglar alarms with the Chattanooga Police Department, according to The Chattanoogan. Police will issue warnings for two false alarms in a 12-month period, after which they will issue citations.

The city’s ordinance requires alarm system operators to turn off an alarm that is causing a false alarm within 30 minutes of being advised to do so by police, regardless of whether it is properly registered.

Kansas City, Mo.

Last month, Kansas City police stopped responding to burglar alarm calls at homes and businesses that lack valid permits, according to the Kansas City Star. The permits cost $45 and are valid until an alarm owner has had three or more false alarms within a year. After that, a renewal fee is charged, with the amount dependent on the number of false alarms the owner has been responsible for.

According to the department, alarm calls accounted for 15 percent of all its calls last year, with 98 percent of those calls turning out to be false.

The ordinance that calls for police to stop responding to calls when there is no permit has been on the books since 1997 but has only recently been enforced.

Hanover, Mass.

In an effort to reduce the number of false alarms, Hanover will begin issuing fines to property owners who are guilty of repeated false alarm calls.

According to the Boston Globe, about 750 false burglar alarms were triggered more than three times in the town’s last fiscal year. One unnamed business had more than 28 false alarms in 12 months.

The bylaw for fines was passed in a town meeting in 2002, but only went into effect on Feb. 1 of this year. Fines range from $100 to $500, with warnings issued for the first three false alarms. The bylaw also covers false fire alarms.

Manatee County, Fla.
County commissioners have approved a scaled-back version of an ordinance intended to reduce false alarms through fines and registration fees.

Sheriff Charles Wells initially proposed mandatory registration of all security systems, coupled with a series of fines up to $400, according to the Sarasota Herald Tribune. The revised ordinance is less severe, allowing for up to three false alarms per year before homeowners and businesses would face false alarm fines and mandatory yearly registration fees.

The plan also calls for the sheriff’s office to work with violators to try to fix any problems they might be having with their alarm systems.

The sherrif scaled back his proposal after county commissioners deemed it “too onerous and far-reaching.”