False alarm ordinance watch

SSN Staff  - 
Thursday, January 1, 2004

LaPorte County, Ga.

The city and county of LaPorte has adopted an ordinance allowing police to fine businesses and homeowners for the cost of false dispatches from alarm systems unless there is a malfunction with the system.

In 2002, LaPorte City police responded to 853 total alarms, which accounted for four percent of their total calls. The LaPorte County Sheriff’s Department responded to 1,808 alarms, which made up seven percent of its total calls.

Under the ordinance, those who have five to six false alarms will pay a $25 fine. That amount increases to $50 for the seventh and eight incident, $75 for the ninth and tenth, and will escalate up to $200 for 15 or more.

Bloomington, Ind.

Beginning on Jan. 1, Bloom-ington began charging alarm system owners fines for more than three false alarms in a year.

Emergency crews are required by law to respond when a fire or burglar alarm is activated, but so far this year, nearly a third of the 2,646 alarms they have responded to have turned out to be false.

The city will charge $50 for the fourth false alarm and $100 for each successive incident. One of the major contributors to the high percentage of false alarms, according to WHAS-TV in Louisville, is Indiana University, where, at press time, 167 false alarms had been activated in 2003.

Hartford, Conn.

Last month, after receiving a number of complaints from alarm system owners, the Hartford City Council withdrew its plan that would have allowed police to ignore any burglar alarm that could not be verified as valid.

According to the Hartford Police Department, 98 percent of the 11,000 alarms its officers responded to in 2002 were false. Each alarm requires two officers to respond and takes an average of 15 minutes to clear.

The city already has an ordinance on the books that calls for progressive fines for repeat false alarms.

Ammon, Idaho

In early December, the Ammon City Council passed an ordinance calling for fines for alarm system owners

who experience more than three false alarms in a year. The fourth false alarm will result in a $100 fine, with each successive false alarm costing $300.

According to KPVI-TV in Idaho Falls, there are about 60 burglar alarms in Ammon, which generate 20 to 30 false alarms each year.

The Bonneville County Sheriff’s Office says they will give alarm owners a warning before they are cited.