False Alarm Ordinance Watch

SSN Staff  - 
Saturday, May 1, 2004

Clark County, Wash.

Under an ordinance adopted by Clark County commissioners, alarm owners living in unincorporated areas must pay a $20 annual registration fee and fines up to $300 for false alarms. The registration fees are expected to generate $147,500 a year, with fines bringing in another $75,000 to $90,000, reported Clark County’s The Columbian.

With the new plan now in effect, residents will have a $50 fine assessed for the first false alarm and recurring fines rise up to $300. After six false alarms within a 12-month period, the county can suspend response completely.

Hanover, Mass.

A bylaw approved by local groups here will now require property owners to pay a fine if their alarm is triggered by a malfunction more than three times during the town’s fiscal year. The Hanover Mariner reported that residents or business owners who exceed the grace limit would be fined under a sliding scale. Fines will range between $100 to $500.

Property owners will face a $100 fine for the fourth through sixth occurrences. The penalty will be increased to $200 for owners above that mark.

The bylaw exempts persons from paying the fee when a power outage, extreme weather or atmospheric disturbance triggers an alarm.

Police responded to roughly 750 false alarms in 2003, many of which were repeat incidents.

Salem, Ore.

Salem police are no longer required to respond to unverified burglar alarms, due to a policy enacted by the city council.

According to Salem’s Statesman Journal, the council unanimously modified the policy in early March to require officers be dispatched only to alarms that have been verified.

Invalid alarms would be broadcast as “all-units bulletins.” This tag will give police the option to respond to the alarm, but the broadcast will only go out if an alarm company has called twice to try to verify a crime.

About 99 percent of alarms here prove to be false.