False alarm ordinance watch

SSN Staff  - 
Sunday, August 1, 2004

Fremont, Calif.

The Fremont Police Department has decided to scale back their response to commercial burglar alarms.

Because of budget cuts and a high number of false alarms, police are no longer responding to commercial burglar alarms that go off between 7 a.m. and 6 p.m., according to The Argus. Police made the move in March because budget cuts have decreased staffing by 24 officers.

Last year, police conducted a six-month study that found only nine out of 2,600 commercial alarms required a police response. The rest were false alarms caused by harsh weather, alarm malfunctions or user error.

Police officials expect the new policy to free up police to attend to other business and plan on resume response to burglar alarms when the department’s budget improves.

Gresham, Ore.

The city council voted in late May to impose a $50 fee for first-time false alarms and increase fees for subsequent false alarms. The increase in fines will place police back on the alarm beat - they stopped responding to alarms that were not monitored by approved security companies in late 2003.

Previously, the city allowed an initial false alarm to be free, but charged $50 for the second offense. The second offense will now net a $75 fine.

Police Chief Carla Piluso proposed the fee increase to offset the cost of answering alarms, according to The Oregonian. The police department estimates 98 percent of alarms are false in the area. Gresham Police also said the city spent $29,000 more on officer responses to alarms and false-alarm education than it collected fees during the 2002-2003 fiscal year.

Approximately 4,194 homes and businesses have robbery or burglary alarm permits.

Revere, Mass.
The city council may allow businesses two or three false alarms before fining them, under a proposed ordinance aimed at reducing the number of alarm calls to police.

According to The Daily Item of Lynn, the council began considering a false alarm ordinance after police reported responding to 2,433 false alarm signals in April - half of them coming from businesses.

Under the proposed ordinance, businesses would be fined $25 to more than $1,000 after the sixth false alarm. Police have sent letters to businesses logging large numbers of false alarms notifying them of the change.

Salisbury, Md.

False alarm calls have cost the Salisbury Police Department more than $500,000 in the past four years, according to the Daily Times. Police Chief Allan Webster said officers responded to more than 10,000 alarms since 2000, each one costing $50 in time and manpower.

In April, the city council repealed its previous false alarm ordinance and implemented a new one. Now, alarm companies must pay a $50 one-time licensing fee. Operating without a license can result in a fine of up to $500 and up to 30 days in jail.

Businesses that operate under a contract with an alarm company will also be fined for excessive false alarm calls. The first two occurrences will garner no fines, but the third offense nets a $50 fine that may escalate up to $1,000 for the 14th false alarm.