False alarm ordinance watch

SSN Staff  - 
Thursday, April 1, 2004

Baytown, Texas

City officials rang in the New Year with a new program for owners of alarms whose systems are habitually crying wolf.

According to The Baytown Sun, the city has purchased computer software to assist police in enforcing the area’s false alarm ordinance. The new software tracks the number of false alarms for each address and automatically notifies police when a system nets a sixth false alarm.

The city’s new plan will charge a $50 service fee per false alarm after a five-alarm grace period.

Lansing, Ind.

The Village Board here has amended the false alarm ordinance to increase fines from $20 per violation to more than $100 for repeat violations.

Under the revised ordinance, violators will receive a warning for a first false alarm, a $50 fine for a second occurrence within 12 months and a $100 fine for the third during the same period. According to published reports in the Northwest Indiana News, a hearing officer for the Lansing Municipal Court will determine fines for additional violations.

The previous ordinance, which had been in effect since 1980, allowed four free false alarms. The decision to update the ordinance stemmed from the 2,250 false alarms recorded within 2002.

Michigan City, Ind.

The Michigan City Common Council has begun talks to approve the implementation of fines for local business and homeowners with repeated false alarms. The Michigan City Police Department responded to more than 3,000 false alarms in 2003.

Under the new plan, system owners would be allowed two false alarms before being subjected to fines. Fines would range from $25 for the first offense and increase up to $400 for a seventh offense. The plan would also require owners to register their alarms with local fire and police departments.

Deputy Fire Chief Mark Donaldson told The Michigan City News-Dispatch that the new initiative would allow rescue personnel to focus on their jobs when emergency situations arise.

Roanoke, Va.

Responding to the growing problem of false alarms in the area, a new false alarm ordinance has been initiated. The program allows the city to assess fines for repeated false alarms at local businesses.

The Roanoke Times reported that owners would also be required to register their alarms with the city annually. The business-only ordinance was developed after certain area businesses had up to 80 false alarms in a calendar year

Tampa, Fla.

County Commissioners here have approved fines for false alarms in an attempt to curb the estimated 62,000 false alarms local police and fire departments respond to each year. The new fines will take effect on Oct. 1, 2004.

Although there is no charge for the first two false alarms, the third occurence begins at $50 and increased with each additional event, topping out at $500.

The Tampa Tribune reported that repeat offenders create the largest drain on local law enforcement’s limited workforce.