False alarm ordinance watch

SSN Staff  - 
Thursday, July 1, 2004

Collinsville, Mo.

Collinsville police are supporting a proposed ordinance that would impose fines for home and business owners who experience reoccurring false alarms.

Property owners would be allowed three false alarms during a six-month period, with a $50 fine assessed for the fourth through ninth false alarm, then the fines rise to $100.

The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported that Collinsville police responded to 1,500 false alarms in 2003 and 1,400 false alarms in 2002, costing the city an estimated $55,000 in emergency personnel labor.

Owners who fail to register their alarms with the city would receive one warning, then pay a $250 fine for each false alarm thereafter.

Police said common violators include schools, churches and government institutions.

Newtown, Conn.

Residents of this New England town must now register their security systems with the Newtown Police Department.

All new systems within any building will be charged a one-time fee of $15 for the registration, reported Voicesnews.com. There is no fee for re-registration. There are approximately 2,900 alarm systems currently registered with the department.

The new ordinance allows three free false alarms. The fourth false alarm nets a $30 charge and each after that garners a $50 fine.

In 2003, the police department responded to 2,095 false alarms and four verified alarms. User error was the primary cause of false alarms.

Nogales, Ariz.
The Nogales City Council has adopted a law that assesses a $45 fee per false alarm to alarm service companies.

The action, which was requested by the Nogales Police Department, faced no opposition.

According to the Nogales International Bulletin, the police department responded to 2,097 false alarms in 2001. There are roughly 22 alarm companies that call police requesting the department’s response to alarms.

The new law states that every security services provider, which includes alarm companies and monitoring centers, will pay a $100 quarterly fee plus $45 per false alarm reported.

Oakland, Calif.

Local households and businesses with a security system have been notified that they are now required by law to obtain a permit for their systems. The permit costs $25 per year for residential alarms and $35 per year for commercial.

The police department will also fine residencies $250 for a false alarm, if the system owner does not have an active permit. There is an exemption for owners over the age of 65.

For permit holders, the first false alarm is free, the second tacks a fine of $100 and a third costs $200. Four or more false alarms in one year’s time costs $300 each.

Alarm companies in Oakland will also have to be certified as a qualified alarm company by the state of California.

Local police estimate that 97 percent of alarms they respond to are false.

Turlock, Calif.

In response to a high percentage of false alarms, Turlock Police have implemented a priority system for alarm calls.

The new system separates calls into three categories, with the highest priority being given to armed robbery alarms followed by overnight commercial burglary alarms. Daytime residential burglary alarms are placed at the lowest priority level.

Police told the Turlock Journal that 99 percent of daytime residential alarms are false and typically generated by equipment or monitoring errors.

The police department estimated it responds to an average of 4,000 alarms per year - approximately 1 percent of those are crimes.

Winnipeg, Manitoba

Local police will only respond to residential alarms after confirmation from the alarm company. Companies must verify that an emergency is occurring before police will take action, according to CBC News.

There will be no change to the way police respond to hold-up alarms.

The previous system of having police check every alarm resulted in responses to more than 22,000 false alarms in 2002. The new policy was developed by the Winnipeg Police Service in conjunction with local alarm companies.