False alarm ordinance watch

SSN Staff  - 
Tuesday, January 1, 2002

Pittsburgh County, Okla.
Sheriff Jerome "Snookie" Amaranto has asked the Pittsburgh County commissioners to consider allowing him to charge security companies for false alarms.

The Daily Oklahoman reported in November that Amaranto made the request out of fear that the frequency of false alarms would lead his officers to "drag their heels" in an instance that turned out to be an actual emergency. Several towns in the area, including Sapulpa, Norman and Yukon, currently have false alarm ordinances on the books. In the city of Edmond, where an estimated 95 percent of calls are false alarms, a $20 "chronic false alarm permit" is tendered after three false alarms; the city levies a fine of $240 for each false alarm after six have been recorded.

Arlington, Texas

The Fort Worth Star-Telegram said almost 25,000 burglar alarm permits have been issued in Arlington since the city enacted a false alarm ordinance last February. Meanwhile, the city's police department reported that nearly 1,000 citations had been issued under the new ordinance through mid-November.

The $10 fee for the permit applies to people under the age of 65 who own residential or commercial properties fitted with alarm systems. Fines of up to $500 have been levied to those who fail to pick up the permit. Those who do have a permit still face a $50 service fee after the fifth false alarm in a 12-month period.

Wichita, Kan.

Security systems companies will soon be required to register their customers in Wichita with the city or face fines and the possible revocation of their operating licenses.

The new registration program, set to take effect in February, seeks to reduce the incidence of false alarms by holding the companies more accountable than the city has in the past.

Under the current city ordinance, the $28 price tag for police response to an alarm will be paid by the responsible party if that alarm turns out to be false.

Officials in Hanover County are considering for the second time a proposed regulation that would make businesses responsible for their false alarms.

If approved, the regulation would require businesses to obtain permits for their alarm systems and be subject to fines of $50 for the fourth, fifth and sixth false alarms and $100 for each subsequent incident, according to a report in the Richmond Times-Dispatch. Owners who don't show up at their business within one hour of a false alarm could be fined up to $200 under the proposed bill.

Officials in Hanover County said that sheriff's deputies respond to an average of 332 alarms every month, with the majority of the calls turning out to be false alarms. Each call averages about 30 to 45 minutes of deputies time, officials aid.

County officials considered a similar ordinance in 1997, but the law failed after some business owners objected. A public hearing was scheduled for Dec. 19.